Ahad, 7 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

North Korea may be preparing new nuclear test - report

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 09:24 PM PDT

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, engaged for weeks in threats of war with South Korea and the United States, appears to be preparing for a fourth nuclear test, with movement at its atomic test site mirroring earlier blasts, a newspaper reported on Monday.

North Korean soldiers with military dogs take part in drills in an unknown location in this picture taken on April 6, 2013 and released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on April 7, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean soldiers with military dogs take part in drills in an unknown location in this picture taken on April 6, 2013 and released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on April 7, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

The report, quoting a senior South Korean government official, followed unusually harsh rebukes of North Korea by China, Pyongyang's sole diplomatic and financial ally.

Speculation has been building that North Korea might undertake some new provocative action this week - possibly a missile test. It was February's nuclear test that prompted tougher U.N. sanctions that have angered Pyongyang.

North Korean authorities have told embassies in Pyongyang they could not guarantee their safety from Wednesday - after saying conflict was inevitable amid joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises due to last until the end of the month. No diplomats appear to have left the North Korean capital.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Seoul later this week and the North holds celebrations and possibly military demonstrations next Monday to mark the birth date of its founder, Kim Il-Sung - grandfather of the current leader, 30-year-old Kim Jong-un.

South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo daily, quoting a senior South Korean government official, said activity at North Korea's atomic test site was similar to that observed before the February 12 blast.

"There are recent active movements of manpower and vehicles at the southern tunnel at Punggye-ri," the official told the newspaper.

South Korea's Defence Ministry was unruffled by the report, saying it has been long prepared for a new test.

"That has not changed at this point. Vehicles and people can come and go because there are several facilities around the nuclear test site," spokesman Kim Min-seok told a briefing.

Pyongyang moved what appeared to be a mid-range Musudan missile to its east coast, according to media reports last week.

The turmoil has hit South Korean financial markets, long used to upsets over the North. Shares in Seoul dipped to a four-month low on Monday as the rhetoric prompted selling by foreigners after substantial losses on Friday.

Moody's credit rating agency said in a report on Monday that the rise in North Korean rhetoric and the re-starting of a nuclear plant to make fissile material had made the current situation "more dangerous" and negative for South Korean assets.

A prominent symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, the Kaesong industrial park inside the North Korean border, is also in doubt after Pyongyang prevented southerners from entering last week. Several hundred South Koreans inside have since returned home.

A spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry said 13 companies out of around 120 firms had stopped operations there because of a lack of raw materials.


North Korea would seek to get the most mileage from whatever action it undertook, said Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean studies in Seoul.

"North Korea does things with the maximum impact in mind. It has not set a no-fly zone yet, which it does every time they do a ballistic missile test," he said.

Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threats are partly intended for domestic purposes to bolster Kim, the third in his family dynasty to rule North Korea.

North Korea told China it was prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, a source with direct knowledge of the message told Reuters after the February 12 test.

The North has also been reacted furiously to annual South Korean-U.S. military exercises off the Korean peninsula, which have involved the dispatch of stealth bombers from their U.S. bases.

But a long scheduled U.S. missile launch was postponed at the weekend to try to ease tensions. The U.S. commander of American forces in South Korea also cancelled a trip to Washington due to the situation on the peninsula.


The weekend message from China was one of exasperation after years of trying to coax North Korea out of isolation and to embrace economic reform.

No country "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain", President Xi Jinping told a forum on China's southern island of Hainan. He did not name North Korea but he appeared clearly to be referring to Pyongyang.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China opposed "provocative words and actions from any party in the region and do not allow trouble-making on China's doorstep".

U.S. lawmakers said China was not doing enough.

Republican Senator John McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized China's "failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation". China's actions, he told CBS television, "has been very disappointing. More than once, wars have started by accident and this is a very serious situation."

Analysts said that whatever influence China once had as North Korea's principal backer had waned.

"China has some say over its economic relations with the North but doesn't have the power to say 'don't do it' when it comes to nuclear weapons and political and military issues," said Kim Yeon-chul, professor of unification studies at South Korea's Inje University.

"North Korea is not listening to China."

Beijing negotiated the new U.N. sanctions with Washington and has said it wanted them implemented. The measures tighten financial curbs on North Korea, order checks of suspicious cargo and strengthen a ban on luxury goods entering the country.

North Korean experts say the young Kim has also failed to pay fealty to China as his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather did. He has not visited China since taking over when his father died at the end of 2011.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul, David Morgan, Aruna Viswanatha and Mark Felsenthal in Washington. Writing by Ron Popeski. Editing by Dean Yates)

Related Stories:
U.S. commander in South Korea cancels Washington trip over tensions

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Opposition holds big rally in Venezuelan capital

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 07:44 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan opposition supporters rallied in a staunchly pro-government part of the capital on Sunday, answering a call by their candidate Henrique Capriles and showing strength a week before the presidential election.

Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in the state of Tachira April 6, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in the state of Tachira April 6, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"Today the streets of Caracas are full of happiness and hope, confirming what will happen next Sunday," Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state, told the crowd.

He faces acting President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to continue the hardline socialism of his late boss, Hugo Chavez, if he wins the April 14 election. Maduro held a huge rally on Sunday in rural Apure state, on the Colombian border.

More often seen filled with the red flags and T-shirts of Chavez's loyal supporters, the capital's historic Bolivar Avenue was packed with opposition supporters decked out in the blue, yellow and red of Capriles' campaign.

"We're winning this process," Capriles said, sweating under the hot sun in a burgundy-coloured shirt, rosary beads around his neck and a baseball cap in the colours of Venezuela's flag.

He said that the day following his election victory would be one of peace and reconciliation among all Venezuelans, and he addressed supporters of Maduro's government directly.

"Those who put on a red shirt today, I just ask you: open your eyes! I'll work hard, I'll shed skin, to win your trust."

Despite the opposition leader's optimism, opinion polls give Maduro a lead of more than 10 percentage points.

Opposition supporters marched from different parts of the city to converge on the avenue, where they waved flags, cheered and sang.

Around the edges of the rally, groups of red-clad "Chavista" pro-government supporters chanted in favour of Maduro.

Both candidates are touring the South American country during a lightning, 10-day campaign ahead of next Sunday's vote, which was triggered by Chavez's death from cancer on March 5.

It has been a bitter run-up to the election, with deeply personal attacks and accusations of dirty tricks by both sides.


The race took a somewhat surreal turn on Saturday when Maduro said a centuries-old curse would fall on the heads of those who do not vote for him.

Maduro, 50, was a bus driver and union leader who rose to become Chavez's foreign minister, then vice president.

At his rallies, he frequently refers to Chavez in adoring terms and plays a video from December where the former president endorsed Maduro as his successor.

"He taught us the supreme value of loyalty. With loyalty, everything is possible. Betrayal only brings defeats and curses," Maduro told cheering supporters on Sunday.

Maduro again accused the opposition of hatching a plot to assassinate him.

He has also accused the U.S. government of planning to kill Capriles and blame it on his government in order to spark unrest before the election. Washington denied it.

Capriles has ridiculed Maduro's claims and likened them to Chavez's frequent denunciations of "imperialist" assassination plots during his 14-year rule.

The opposition says the assassination claims are designed to distract voters from daily problems such as violent crime, high prices and creaking public services.

Capriles, who is predicting a late pro-opposition surge as sympathy wears off after Chavez's death, is vowing to install a Brazilian-style administration of free-market economics with strong social welfare policies.

Capriles mocks Maduro as a bad copy of Chavez, and says his decisions as acting president caused a currency devaluation and price spikes that have been disastrous for Venezuelans.

Gisela Quijada, a 68-year-old nurse attending the opposition rally in Caracas, said the country was broken.

"I like Capriles ... the other one is immature. He just wants to be a copy of Chavez," she said.

"Chavez was a leader for them. I can't deny it. But he (Maduro) has nothing in his head. If Capriles doesn't win, we'll keep on fighting for him. But we're sure he's going to win!"

The election will decide the future of "Chavismo" socialism and control of the world's biggest oil reserves and economic aid to left-leaning nations across Latin America and the Caribbean.

(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Philip Barbara and Stacey Joyce)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Norway workers agree on last-minute wage rise to avert strike

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 07:31 PM PDT

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's unions accepted a last-minute wage deal on Monday and called off a nationwide strike, sparing the country's vital offshore oil and gas industry from disruption, both sides involved in the negotiations said.

Unions accepted a 3.4 percent pay rise, below the central bank's projection for a 4 percent increase, averting a strike that would have cut off supplies to key offshore oil and gas platforms, disrupted traffic at Oslo's international airport and shut key industries.

"This is a responsible and fair settlement, which takes into account jobs and businesses, and ensures that the purchasing power of the lowest paid gets an extra boost," Roar Flaathen, the head of the LO union said after talks ran more than three hours past the midnight deadline.

Strikes have become common in Norway over the past year as workers are demanding a greater share of the country's rare economic success. Offshore workers last summer shut down large parts of the oil sector in demand for higher wages, forcing the government to intervene.

NHO, the umbrella organisation representing employers, said the moderation in wage growth after last year's 4 percent rise was a welcome and necessary change of pace for the country.

Norway is the world's seventh largest oil exporter and second biggest piped gas supplier, and last year's strike pushed global oil prices up by around $2 (1.30 pounds) per barrel.

Norway's $500-billion economy grew by 3.5 percent last year, even as the euro zone struggled with another recession.

But wages are already more than 60 percent of the European average and stagnating competitiveness is a growing headache, even for the oil sector.

The central bank had expected wages to rise by 4 percent or more in each of the next four years, despite stagnating productivity, as workers take advantage of a general shortage of labour and Norway's relative success.

Monday's strike would have initially affected 17,000 people and would have shut two key bases from which many of Statoil's biggest offshore platforms are supplied with everything from food to fuel and drilling fluid.

(Writing by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Participate in Reverse The Song challenge and win extra cash on 988

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 02:02 AM PDT

HERE'S your chance to win some money from 988. Step up to the station's Reverse The Song challenge which offers RM500 if you can correctly guess the song that is played in reverse. Cash prizes worth up to RM100,000 will be up for grabs every Monday to Friday, from April 8 to May 10.

To ensure that the entire RM100,000 amount is given out to the listeners, cash prizes will be snowballed if there is no winner for each segment. To sweeten the deal, there will also be a "Bonus Hour" where listeners can bag even more cash! With all the cash up for grabs, April is definitely the month to tune into 988.

Also on 988 this week:

Morning Up

(Monday-Friday, 6am-10am)

For those with domestic help at home, addressing the maids as kakak is a common thing. So, how do you deal with a kakak who isn't doing her duties efficiently? Do not fret as 988 has the solution for you. 988's Big Problem segment (9am-10am) in the Morning Up show will feature a special guest from a maid agency to share tips on how to deal with such matters.

This week's Big Problem segment will also feature local artiste Michael Wong as its VIP guest. Although he has made it big in the music industry, Wong is still a little kid at heart.

In addition, the Morning Up show this week will focus on the topic, "What will I do for the upcoming GE13". For instance, some transport companies have announced that they will be giving discounts for tickets so that voters can return to their respective hometowns to vote.

Others will have initiatives to gather more Malaysians to exercise their right to vote.

What will you do for GE13? Listen to 988's Morning Up Cases segment to find out more on what others have done for the election.

988 is owned and operated by The Star.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Argentina, Serbia reach Davis Cup semis

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 05:47 PM PDT

PARIS: Argentina are into the Davis Cup World Group semi-final after their world number 71 Carlos Berlocq beat 13th-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon to hand the South Americans a 3-2 win on Sunday.

A distraught Simon, who saved five match points before finally succumbing, said it was the lowest point of his tennis career.

"By a long way that was the most difficult defeat to accept of my entire career," he said.

"What disappointment, it was a very important match for everyone. I had to win it, but didn't.

"I did the best I could.

"All I wanted to do was win - for me, for the others, for Jo (Tsonga) who didn't deserve to lose after winning two matches."

Argentina will face defending champions Czech Republic after they eliminated Kazakhstan earlier in the day. Serbia and semi-final newcomer Canada also won their quarter-finals on Sunday.

Berlocq said he didn't want to let down his family, friends and teammates who were pulling for an Argentina victory at the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires.

"When you are in your own country, with everyone around, your family, your friends, who have confidence in you, their confidence is contagious.

"All the team believed victory was possible. It was a battle, fortunately we won it."

France had levelled the quarter-final tie earlier after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga dismantled Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour, 42 minutes to force a deciding rubber.

Against the odds, that went to Berlocq, who fought back to prevail 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 against Simon who was called in late to replace Richard Gasquet.

David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos had also come from behind to win Saturday's doubles, which gave the hosts the upper hand going into the final day.

World No. 1 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic's victory over Sam Querrey of the United States on Sunday advanced Serbia into the semi-finals.

Djokovic, who had to battle through an ankle injury he suffered in the opening set, earned a 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 6-0 win to give the Serbians an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie.

It is the second win for Serbia in four years over the 32-time titlist USA. In their only other previous Davis Cup encounter Serbia defeated the Americans in Belgrade in 2010.

"I am sorry for team USA but it was a thrilling weekend for all of us," Djokovic said.

Djokovic had to play through the pain of a bad right ankle, which he sprained in the third game of the opening set. "I took some anti-inflammatories, and they kicked in at the end of the second set," he said.

Djokovic said he probably wouldn't have finished the match if it wasn't Davis Cup.

"If I wasn't playing for Serbia and didn't have my team watching me, I don't know if I would have continued," he said.

The 25-year-old Djokovic clinched the victory over world number 20 Querrey with a backhand winner, ending the two hour, 35 minute match.

Serbia will now meet Canada after Milos Raonic sent the Canucks to their first-ever semi-final by beating Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

The 22-year-old Raonic overpowered Seppi with his booming serve before Seppi stepped up and won the third set in Vancouver, British Columbia.

But Raonic rebounded to win the fourth, finishing the match with 35 aces to complete the historic win for Canada, who will travel to Serbia for the semi-finals in September.

Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic put the defending champions into the semi-finals with a tough win over Kazakhstan's Evgeny Korolev at Astana.

Rosol, who is 63rd in the ATP rankings, won 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 in his first ever head-to-head meeting with the 25-year-old Korolev to give his team an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie.-AFP

Tiger feels his age as Chinese teen reaches Masters

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 05:19 PM PDT

AUGUSTA, Georgia: Tiger Woods fears almost nothing in golf, but having 14-year-old Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang set to become the youngest starter in Masters history has sent a shiver down his spine.

Guan had not been born when Woods won his first major title at the 1997 Masters, but the Asian schoolboy has been inspired by Woods and has spent the past month in Augusta preparing for his historic debut on Thursday.

"It's frightening to think that he was born after I won my first Masters," Woods said. "I mean, that's just frightening."

Woods, 37, played in his first Masters at age 19 and Italy's Matteo Manassero, at age 16 in 2010, had been the youngest player in Masters history until now.

Guan qualified for his historic moment at Augusta National Golf Club by winning last year's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand.

"I'm so excited," Guan said. "I'm really happy to become the youngest player at the Masters."

Guan, a native of Guangzhou, was born on October 25, 1998 and has intently studied Woods, who has served as an inspiration for young talent globally in collecting 14 major wins, four shy of Jack Nicklaus' career record.

"It's exciting that I have inspired kids to play and not just here in the States but obviously in China and around the world," Woods said. "The game has become global. There are more countries represented on the PGA Tour than ever.

"It's only going to increase, and we're going to have a lot of players from countries that traditionally haven't been into golf that are going to start to play this game at a high level."

Helping that cause has been golf's inclusion in the list of Olympic sports starting with the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.

"With the Olympics being involved, government funding is going to be involved trying to get these kids to that type of level, and that's only going to make it better for the game of golf."

That could put Woods and Guan, rivals this week for the green jacket symbolic of a Masters champion, on a collision course once again in three years for another epic prize - Olympic gold.

"It is every athlete's dream to represent their home country to compete at the Olympics," Guan told AFP last month. "It will be the greatest honor to me if I can represent China at the 2016 Olympics, and I will definitely keep working hard on it."

Guan began playing at age four and won the world junior title by 11 shots in 2011 in San Diego. Last year, he became the youngest player in a European Tour event when he played the Volvo China Open at the age of 13 years and 177 days.

Facing the undulating greens of Augusta National and the intense spotlight of a major championship, Guan said making the 36-hole cut will be an achievement this week.

"It's an honor for me to be able to play with the best golfers in the world," Guan said. "To me, the only goal is to enjoy the event and give my best and, of course, if I can make the cut that would be even better."

But Guan already hungers for the ultimate prize of every elite golfer around the world.

"I have a dream since I was a little boy," Guan said. "I wish, one day, I can win all four majors in one year."

That's a feat not even his idol Woods has achieved, although Woods did win four in a row, the 2000 US and British Opens and PGA Championship and the 2001 Masters for the "Tiger Slam."

"At one point in my career to have all four of them on my coffee table in a row was a pretty neat feeling," Woods said of golf's major trophies.-AFP

Laird earns Masters' spot with Texas triumph

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 05:18 PM PDT

SAN ANTONIO, Texas: Martin Laird punched his ticket to The Masters by firing a closing round of nine-under 63 to capture the PGA Tour's Texas Open by two strokes on Sunday.

The 30-year-old Scotsman matched the course record and snapped a USA win streak on the PGA Tour that dates back to last season.

Rory McIlroy got within one stroke of the lead when he birdied the 14th hole, but the Northern Irishman ended two back at minus-12 after a final-round 66.

Laird, who entered the day five shots adrift of the leader, rolled in birdies on his final three holes Sunday at the TPC San Antonio.

"I felt really good coming here because I like this golf course. I played well here a couple of years ago," said Laird, who finished his third PGA Tour victory at 14-under 274. "I wanted to stay aggressive. Finally, in a final round my putter got hot. I can't believe it."

Laird also earned his third consecutive trip to The Masters. He tied for 20th in 2011 and shared 57th last year in his previous Augusta efforts.

American Jim Furyk holed out for eagle on the par-five 18th for a three-under 69.

He shared third place at 11-under with third-round leader Billy Horschel (71) and Charley Hoffman (69), who birdied six of his final eight holes.

This marks the first time that the Texas Open has served as the final Masters tune-up with the winner getting a free pass into Augusta.

Laird's victory also snapped an American win streak on the PGA Tour which dated back to October 2012.

Last Friday, the tournament got some added firepower when McIlroy decided to join the field which featured eight former major winners and four of the top 15 in the world.

World number two McIlroy finished two shots back of Laird to post his best finish of the year.

"I think over the last three rounds I eliminated the stupid mistakes and mental errors," McIlroy said. "To finish this tournament with a round like today is great going into Augusta.

"I am really pleased with my game this has been a great week for me." McIlroy birdied the par-five No. 2 then had two consecutives birdies just before the turn on number eight and nine. He caught fire on the back nine with four more birdies over his last seven holes, including the par-five 18. He also had two bogeys in the round.-AFP

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Triumphal soars on selective capital reduction

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 07:01 PM PDT

Published: Monday April 8, 2013 MYT 10:02:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Triumphal Associates Bhd surged to a high of 96 sen on Monday after its major shareholder, Golden Power Holdings Sdn Bhd, proposed a selective capital reduction.

At 9.50am, it was up 22 sen to 96 sen. There were 128,100 shares done.

The FBM KLCI slipped 2.96 points to 1,685.69. Turnover was 153.17 million shares valued at RM168.66mil. There were 168 gainers, 196 losers and 180 counters unchanged.

Last Friday, Golden Power proposed a selective capital reduction that would result the latter holding the entire issued and paid-up capital that will result in a RM26.7mil cash deal at RM1 per share.

Golden Power, together with persons acting in concert (interested shareholders), currently hold about 69.4% stake in Triumphal.

Petronas-linked stocks lift KLCI

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 06:21 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips opened higher on Monday, underpinned by gains in Petronas-related counters and KL Kepong.

It opened 3.02 points higher at 1,691.67. However, by 9.05am, it gave up most of the gains and it was up just 0.97 of a point to 1,689.62.

Turnover was 43.48 million shares valued at RM28.64mil. There were 123 gainers, 56 losers and 96 counters unchanged.

Asian stocks rose as the yen fell for a third day after the Bank of Japan's record stimulus. Markets in China may be affected after the country reported cases of a new variant of bird flu, according to Bloomberg.

At Bursa Malaysia, Petronas Gas rose 20 sen to RM19.08 and Petronas Dagangan 16 sen higher at RM23.30.

Plantations-based KL Kepong gained 24 sen to RM21.36 while BAT added eight sen to RM63.02.

Triumphal Associates wasa the top gainer, surging 22 sen to 96 sen, after its major shareholder, Golden Power Holdings Sdn Bhd, proposes a selective capital reduction that will result the latter holding the entire issued and paid-up capital that will result in a RM26.7mil cash deal at RM1 per share.

Top Glove gained 15 sen to RM5.88 on expectations of stronger external demand for its gloves after a new variant of bird flu appeared in China.

The decliners were GAB, down 18 sen to RM17.82 with just 100 shares done. KLCCP lost nine sen to RM7, Genting eight sen to RN10.10 and Sunway seven sen to RM3.03.

MISC minorities should accept Petronas revised offer

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 06:07 PM PDT

Published: Monday April 8, 2013 MYT 9:07:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute has advised minority shareholders of MISC Bhd to accept Petroliam Nasional Bhd's revised offer of RM5.50, which is its new fair value.

The research house had on Monday said it had then downgraded MISC to Neutral.

"We wait for more exciting times ahead when MISC (or its business entities) goes for relisting for fund raising activities on the back of improved valuations," said RHB Research.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

GE13: Anwar fails to announce Perlis PKR candidates

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 08:28 AM PDT

KANGAR: PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed to named the party's candidates for Perlis on Sunday night as seat negotiations with its ally PAS and DAP remained at a deadlock.

Anwar was to announce the candidates during a ceramah at Kampung Seberang Ramai here.

He left hurriedly after a short speech without making any announcements leaving party members and journalists in shock.

State PKR chairman Mohd Faisol Abd Rahman said unsolved issues remained for the Kangar parliamentary and Indera Kayangan state seats.

"Traditionally, PKR contests in the two seats but PAS is now eyeing Kangar and DAP is interested with Indera Kayangan," he said on Sunday.

For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site

GE13: People understand only BN capable of fulfulling promises, says Muhyiddin

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 07:47 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the people should be able to judge and compare Barisan Nasional's manifesto with the opposition's.

He said Barisan's manifesto, containing promises by the ruling coalition, should be viewed seriously as it explained clearly and in detail what the coalition would do for the next five years.

"Surely the people are wise enough to compare the two manifestos, which can be believed and fulfilled?" he said when launching the Batu parliamentary constituency's election machinery.

Muhyiddin said the people generally understood that only Barisan would be able to fulfill its promises in the coming years.

"When the BN chairman (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) outlined in detail our plans for the people of this country, now the responsibility is ours as leaders and members of the BN component parties (to explain to the people the manifesto to make them understand)," he said.

Najib launched the BN manifesto for the 13th general election which outlined 17 main areas, with all aspects touching on the future of the people and nation to be looked into if BN was given another mandate to helm the nation.

Muhyiddin, who Barisan deputy chairman, urged all the coalition's component party members to work together to wrest back the parliamentary and state seats lost in the last general election.

He said although public support for Barisan appeared to have increased over the last three years, the general election this time could not be viewed as easy because of the bigger challenges.

"One of the challenges is to translate that support into votes in the upcoming election," he said.

For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site

Related Stories:
GE13: Najib: I humbly seek your mandate
GE13: PM unveils action-oriented Barisan Nasional manifesto (Update)

GE13: Dr Mahathir says it again - Kit Siang should be changed

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 07:45 AM PDT

Published: Sunday April 7, 2013 MYT 10:36:00 PM
Updated: Sunday April 7, 2013 MYT 10:45:58 PM

MUAR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pix) has called on senior Pakatan Rakyat leaders to follow his footsteps and retire from politics.

Speaking at a large gathering at a Bicara Perdana event here on Sunday night, the former prime minister said DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat should be "changed" as they have been around for many years.

He also hit out at PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim calling him to make way for other families to lead the party.

"I also call on the Chinese not to fall into DAP's trap of pitting the Chinese against the Malays as this will destroy the country," he said.

He also urged voters in Gelang Patah to reject Lim's bid for the parliamentary seat.

For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site

Related Stories:
GE13: Lim: I'm not a political fugitive
GE13: Prospect of Ghani-Lim clash heightens polls fever
GE13: Lim Kit Siang admits Gelang Patah a 'tough battle'
GE13: Kit Siang is the one that needs to be changed, says Dr Mahathir

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Spanish director who gave Penelope Cruz her break dies aged 67

Posted: 06 Apr 2013 04:30 PM PDT

MADRID: Jose Juan Bigas Luna, a Spanish director and screenwriter who gave Penelope Cruz her first big screen break, has died aged 67 after a long struggle with cancer, Spanish media reported Saturday.

Bigas Luna, as he was simply known, directed more than a dozen films over his 35-year career.

Perhaps his best-known for international audiences was "Jamon Jamon" (1992), a raunchy comedy which starred newcomer Cruz and up-and-coming fellow Spanish actor Javier Bardem.

Both Cruz and Bardem went on separately to Hollywood careers and later became a real-life couple, marrying in 2010.

A decade before "Jamon Jamon", Bigas Luna had tried his own hand in Hollywood, making "Reborn" with Dennis Hopper in the lead, but the movie garnered little notice.

Bigas Luna kept working in Spain up to his death. In recent months he was preparing to film in his native city of Barcelona a movie called "Second Origin", a science fiction tale about Earth after an apocalyptic alien attack. - AFP

Tang Wei is feeling her characters

Posted: 06 Apr 2013 09:16 AM PDT

Tang Wei is one of China's most celebrated actresses, yet insists she is nothing like her celebrity image.

Tang Wei is one of the few young Chinese actresses who manages to be both popular and keep a low profile. She is a household name in China, largely thanks to her 2007 big screen debut in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. But while the Golden Lion-winning film brought the then 28-year-old actress fame, she did not bask in the glow.

The film's nude scenes and the political issues raised instead led her to fade away from the spotlight for a year. The Central Academy of Drama (Beijing, China) graduate visited London and honed her dramatic skills further. She took two courses on theatre, auditioned for a number of plays and got a role in Shakespeare's Henry V.

On her return to China, she acted in five films, but seldom promoted them. She has no microblog or obvious web presence, yet still her every move is watched. Video clips of her English speech at an awards ceremony in South Korea and her English interview promoting the 2011 martial arts movie Dragon in Cannes, France were widely viewed online.

Passersby steal pictures of the star in bookstores, small restaurants and at the theatre and post them on the Internet. While her fans praise her mystery and grace, the critics say she is just a product of successful "hunger marketing".

"Stars are like Barbies," Tang Wei, 34, says. She is dressed casually in a white silk shirt and deep blue slim jeans and complains about her 10cm high heels. "I still can't get used to them," she adds.

"People make up their perceptions of a star, just like they put makeup on a Barbie. The 'star' Tang Wei," she says with a smile, pointing to the ceiling, "is there. She has nothing to do with the real me."

She attributes her ability to master dialects and languages like Cantonese in Lust, Caution, and English in Late Autumn, to her "shamelessness". She insists her English used to embarrass her. At a press conference in New York for Lust, Caution years ago, she says she forgot the word for "building". People laughed, but she said the mistake only made her remember the word better.

She claims she is not smart, good at painting – which she learned from her painter father – or acting, and adds her rise through the acting ranks is just the result of working hard, in what she describes as a "dumb way".

In her latest film, Finding Mr Right, she plays a Chinese woman who travels to Seattle in the United States to deliver her baby, whose father is the rich husband of some other woman. She filled a bag with rice and a ball of lead, and carried it around all day except when bathing or sleeping, to get an idea of what it was like to be a pregnant woman.

"I am not one of those gifted actors, so I try to live the character's life as best I can, hoping the physical practice brings mental change." For instance, when playing a farmer's wife in Peter Chan's Dragon, the eighth best movie of 2012 according to Time magazine, she put mud under her nails for the role.

She is an avid learner. She improved her Cantonese when making Crossing The Hennessey, a small budget romance that takes place in Hong Kong's narrow streets and tiny restaurants; learned tai chi for her role in Speed Angels; and some Korean when making Late Autumn, in which her character falls in love with a Korean conman in Seattle.

The latter film helped her become the first foreigner to win best actress at the PaekSang Arts Awards in South Korea.

She once said in an interview she is so curious she would willingly go to the South Pole some day and learn from the penguins.

Even so, her favourite place is still China, where she can speak Mandarin, take public transport and be among friends. She also likes looking for good and small, difficult-to-find eateries.

If discovered by a fan, she says, "I just change direction and keep on eating". What is the gift that you want most?

I wish I could understand a language after listening to it, not only those of people, but also those of animals and extraterrestrials. I believe I can bring a lot more to the world if I could use any language I listen to.

What would you do if you weren't an actress?

Maybe I would open a noodle shop and make it cozy and comfortable for everyone. Many girls dream of opening a bookstore, cafe, restaurant or flower store, and I share that dream, too.

If you could take one book to an island, which would it be?

I would take one about religion. Only a strong faith can sustain you on an isolated island, and religion has this power for you to believe, to read it again and again.

If you could talk to a former great in your industry, who would you choose and why?

I would say Charlie Chaplin at this moment, because I deeply felt how difficult comedy is when acting in Finding Mr Right. An actor needs to be born with a certain gift to do comedy, which I don't have now. I would want to ask him what he has been through, or just stand beside him for a while to see what his world is like.

What do you appreciate most in a man?

Concentration, something I lack now. Men who give full attention to what they are doing, however trivial, are charming and wise to me. I think so, what do you think?

If you could change one thing about your looks or character, what would it be?

What I have been trying to do is to concentrate. I find it hard. In this era when information is so fast and enormous, young people don't concentrate, and this is intolerable in acting. I hope one day I can fully focus on the thing I am doing, be it acting, an interview, or life.

Of what are you proudest?

Every step I have taken was my own choice. I have not done anything that I regret as of now. I am very glad that I have followed the voice at the bottom of my heart, never in a hurry, nor delaying. I feel inner peace, which brings inner peace to people around me, too. I am proud of being independent and relying on myself. – China Daily/Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Mesmerised anew by an old book

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 02:30 AM PDT

LAST weekend was the long Easter holiday Down Under. It was also, truly, the last moments of summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. The day began with cloudy skies and the occasional cold breeze. It was a pleasant day for a picnic, so we took the kids to a place called McCarrs Creek, some 50km from central Sydney.

We lugged our kayak onto the roof of the car, packed up what we'd need. The kids had their own bags, and I'm sure you can guess that books took up much of the space. My daughter, after 10 weeks in kindergarten, is now able to read simple books on her own, and she, too, had books in her bag.

In the car, my son was deeply engrossed in his comics while my daughter looked out the window, trying to sound out words she spied. When finally she succeeded in pronouncing the word "area", her eyes lit up and the glint remained fiery throughout the day, reflecting her burning desire to read. Another bookworm she is, in the making.

McCarrs Creek is beautiful. Never before had I witnessed such still beauty. The creek is tranquil but not stagnant. The trees on the banks are luxuriant and sway in unison in the wind, the sound of their rustling leaves rendering the area magical.

With our beach tent up and picnic rugs spread out, the boys went kayaking while my daughter and I waited for another family to arrive. In this picturesque place shrouded by serenity and peace, I wished only to lie down.

And that was when I realised I had not brought along a book!

I rummaged frantically through my haversack anyway, hoping against hope – and I came across an old copy of Naguib Mahfouz's collection of short stories entitled The Time And The Place, a library book I thought I had lost. As I looked at it in puzzlement, I heard a giggle. It seems my daughter had found it that morning under the sofa bed; it must have fallen from my hand when I suddenly dozed off. She had secretly placed it in my sack, knowing that would please me, and it did. A sensitive little soul she is, and has been from the day she was born.

The sun had tried to scorch through a few times but cumulus clouds kept covering it, foreboding rain and thunder. Nature squabbled over us as we set up the grill. Sizzling sausages lured the children back from the river banks, from their attempts to net up fish and uncover clams.

Nothing, however, could get me up and out of my dreaminess, not even the mouth-watering smell wafting in the air. I had been transported to the Khan al-khalili bazaar in Cairo by Mahfouz. The sizzling sound was slowly drowned out by the silence of The Empty Café, in which an old man who, having outlived all his contemporaries, lives and seeks companionship in the cat belonging to his young, rambunctious grandson.

The pages turned quickly as I jostled through a motley crowd of colourful characters and witnessed the colours of the human race as Mahfouz depicted them. While the kids were merrily immersed in nature, I was completely preoccupied and mesmerised by this old little book which had been with the library since 1993. Back then, when I was a student, I did not know at all of the existence a great novelist called Naguib Mahfouz. Deceased since 2006, he remains to me the master of all storytellers.

The day ended perfectly with the sun and the rain granting our wish to be out for one last time before the arrival of autumn.

"It was one of the best days of my life," my son exclaimed. "You hardly did anything, Mum."

"She was reading, Jonn," my daughter came to the rescue.

She grinned. She knew I needed those moments of laziness with my book. n Having read the last of the fiction she had in her most recent pile of books, Abby Wong went scouring for more in a bookstore only to come home empty-handed. She will scout for a gem in the library and tell you all about it in two weeks' time.

Best sellers

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 02:24 AM PDT

FOR week ending March 31, 2013:


1. Syed Mokhtar Albukhary: A Biography by Premilla Mohanlall

2. Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed

3. Wreck This Journal (black): To Create Is To Destroy by Keri Smith

4. You Can Read Anyone: Never Be Fooled, Lied To, Or Taken Advantage Of Again by David J. Lieberman

5. Unstoppable: The Incredible Power Of Faith In Action by Nick Vujicic

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey

7. Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

8. Only 13: The True Story Of Lon by Julia Manzanares & Derek Kent

9. Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps To Get Moving And Get Happy by Ben Michaelis

10. A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller


1. The Host (movie tie-in) by Stephenie Meyer

2. Life Of Pi by Yann Martel

3. Betrayal by Danielle Steel

4. Best Kept Secret (Clifton Chronicles #3) by Jeffrey Archer

5. One Day (movie tie-in) by David Nicholls

6. One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

7. Theodore Boone: The Accused by John Grisham

8. Taken (A Give & Take Novel) by Kelli Maine

9. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

n Weekly list compiled by MPH Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur; www.mphonline.com.

Mark this date

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 02:23 AM PDT

WHAT are you doing on April 23? May we suggest going on a literary date?

That's the day that has been designated World Book Day by Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) because, among other reasons, it is the day on which the "father of the modern novel", Miguel de Cervantes, died in Spain 1616.

His story about eternally optimistic nobleman Don Quixote not only gave the world its first novel but also added to the English language the wonderfully musical word "quixotic".

With this special connection to World Book Day, Spain has always made a point of celebrating all things bookish on the day, whether in Catalonia itself, where men traditionally give roses to their lovers and the women give a book in exchange, or worldwide through the Instituto Cervantes (the Spanish equivalent of the British Council) network.

In Kuala Lumpur, Aula Cervantes (which is run by the Instituto), together with HELP College of Arts and Technology and the Embassy of Spain, has partnered with Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka and MPH Bookstores to organise a number of events for the occasion.

Among them is a photography contest (closing date April 20) with the theme "My Favourite Children's Book" that will reward children who send in winning photos with prizes of book vouchers worth RM500 and RM300 from MPH Bookstores and books from Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka; and a quiz (closing date April 20) offering you the chance to win a Spanish language course at Aula Cervantes, Spanish language books and Spanish-English dictionaries.

To get the entry form for the photography contest and the quiz questions, call Susana M. Vellon at 03-2711 2000 ext 5207, or e-mail: aula.kualalumpur@cervantes.es.

MPH Bookstores is also offering its own fun activities on the day, such as storytelling and interactive book-reading sessions for children to spark the reading habit within the younger generation. For more information on these events, contact MPH Bookstores' customer service hotline at 03-2938 3818 or visit its blog: mphclick.com.

You can also get more information from helpcat.edu.my. All activities are open to book lovers of all ages, young and old.

Need somewhere to write all this down now so you won't forget by April 23? Check out the colourful DIY blocks notebooks, exclusively from MPH Bookstores, which you can get right now with every purchase of RM120 and above in a single receipt at any MPH store nationwide. There are also beautiful World Book Day bookmarks being given out for free at selected MPH outlets. (Note that all of these promotional items are only available while stocks last.)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Alchemist’s mind of artist Gustavo Charif

Posted: 06 Apr 2013 09:10 AM PDT

An Argentinian artist uses his work to engage with and explore the world around him.

IF there is one thing artist Gustavo Charif can't abide, it is dualism. Perhaps that is why his artworks, a veritable explosion of drawings, oils, acrylics and collages, are so intensely multifaceted.

"I am against dualism, the idea that everything has to be one thing or another. Why should we be stuck in a system? People should be able to see the different tones in reality, not just black or white," said the Argentinian artist during a recent interview at his exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Absolute Charif by Fuman Art.

Born in Buenos Aires, the 47-year-old painter, writer, filmmaker and musician has had his works shown alongside greats like Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, and has collaborated with the likes of Fernando Arrabal and Milan Kundera.

Having had his first solo show here in September during last year's Art Expo Malaysia, Charif stayed on for a three-month residency programme in Kuala Lumpur. As fate would have it, he fell in love with a Malaysian woman and has decided to make Malaysia his home.

The pieces being shown in Absolute Charif are all works created during his time here. Also part of the show are two works entitled Camouflage, inspired by sculptures by Pablo Picasso and Dali, where Charif has incorporated the images of these sculptures into his own paintings.

"Actually, I don't believe in the word 'creation'," asserted Charif when asked how comes up with his pieces. "What I do is not really create something, but rather, combine the experiences I see in my life. I take a look at the world, and a look inside myself, and combine both."

His art, he added, gives him a way of engaging and making sense of the world around him.

"I use painting to think, to explore myself, to understand the world," he explained.

Rich with details, Charif's works have more than a touch of the tongue-in-cheek about them, as they juxtapose familiar urbanscapes with surrealist fantasy images. For example, Nightmare Of A Beast, which is bound to elicit a laugh with its quirky image of a hamster dreaming of a giant-sized version of itself. Family Of Man, on the other hand, uses a familiar landscape outline, but fills the canvas with incongruous elements, like a dog riding a horse, a tree with what looks like playing cards as leaves, and a hill topped by a gramophone.

Yet, while the temptation is there to connect his works to well-known surrealists like Dali, Charif insists that his pieces are not located within any particular movement.

"In my paintings, I try to find the point where the objective and subjective disappear. For example, I don't think realism and surrealism are opposites of each other. Often, you will see the abstract, the classical, constructivism, imperialism, collage, pen and ink, all in the same painting. You could say, the aesthetic of my paintings is trying to catch that point where all reality becomes one; in Spanish, I would describe it as fundicion (alchemy)."

His work More Than Just Crunch, for instance, is a large, fascinating piece that combines a classical portrait with abtract, textured swirls of colour, alongside surrealist imagery, all set within a geometric grid. Like most of Charif's works, close examination reveals a wealth of detail, such as the plastic action figurines embedded within the paint, or remnants of a cereal box making up the collage.

Similarly, his Rotten Mondrian evokes the famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian's grids, but antithetically, crowds them with intense collages and portraits.

In contrast, works like Heaven In Hell and Silence, Please, play with space and deeper colours to foreground particular elements, enticing you to focus not just on what is on the canvas, but also what isn't.

For Charif, evolution is an essential part of his artistic journey.

"(Artist) Marcel Duchamp once said, repetition is death. I completely agree. With my work, I don't want to repeat myself; I want to keep exploring and doing new things," he concluded.

>Absolute Charif will be showing at Maison Francaise (5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur) until early June. Viewing hours are: Tuesday-Thursday, 12pm to 10.30pm; Friday-Sunday, 12pm to 11 pm (closed on Mondays). For more information, call 03-21441474 or email info@maisonfrancaise.com.my.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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