Rabu, 10 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

South Korea, U.S. remain on missile watch as North lauds Kims

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 08:27 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and the United States remained on high alert for any North Korean missile launch on Thursday as the hermit kingdom turned its attention to celebrating its ruling Kim dynasty and appeared to dial down rhetoric of impending war.

A South Korean soldier stands guard near a barbed wire fence at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge, which leads to the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A South Korean soldier stands guard near a barbed wire fence at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge, which leads to the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Despite North Korea's threats it will attack U.S. bases and the South in response to any hostile acts against it, Pyongyang started to welcome a stream of visitors for Monday's birthday celebrations of its founding father Kim Il-sung.

North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defence assessments made by Washington and Seoul, possibly in readiness for a test launch that would demonstrate its ability to hit U.S. bases on Guam.

Officials in Seoul said there were no signs that additional steps had been taken on Thursday that would indicate the North had moved closer to a launch.

Pyongyang issued a statement that appeared to be tinged with regret over the closure of the joint Kaesong industrial zone that was shuttered when it ordered its workers out this week, terming the North-South Korean venture "the pinnacle of General Kim Jong-il's limitless love for his people and brothers".

The statement on the country's KCNA news agency blamed South Korean President Park Geun-hye for bringing the money-spinning venture to "the brink of shutting down".

Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung's son, ruled North Korea until his death in December 2011. He was succeeded by Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to preside over one of the world's poorest and most heavily militarised countries.

Since taking office, the 30-year old has staged two long- range rocket launches and a nuclear weapons test. The nuclear test in February triggered United Nations sanctions that Pyongyang has termed a hostile act and a precursor to invasion.

For over a month, Pyongyang has issued an almost daily series of threats to the United States and South Korea, most recently warning foreigners to leave the South due to an impending "thermonuclear" war.

Apart from the swipe at South Korea's new president, verbal threats appeared to fall off as KCNA listed arrivals for the upcoming birthday celebrations, naming an eclectic mix ranging from Chinese businessmen to Cold War-era enthusiasts of its socialist monarchy and official ideology of "Juche", or self-reliance.

Ramon Jimenez Lopez, listed as the chairman of the Latin American Institute of the Juche Idea, and Jie Wenjiang, who it said was in charge of Hantong International freight company in Dandong, China, were among the arrivals, KCNA said.


Reinforcing the rule of the Kim dynasty and the legitimacy of the latest Kim to hold power in Pyongyang is a key tenet of North Korea's ideology.

Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Kim Jong-un had "lifted the North Korean people out of the sea of bloody tears that has been their world in the past year" after the death of his father.

It was the first anniversary on Thursday of Kim's official ascent to power, although he became de-facto leader immediately after his father's death.

Despite the heady rhetoric from North Korea and its closure of the Kaesong economic zone that generated $2 billion a year in trade, Pyongyang does not appear to have placed its 1.2 million strong armed forces on high alert.

Most observers say Pyongyang has no intention of igniting a conflict that could bring its own destruction but warn of the risks of miscalculation on the highly-militarised Korean peninsula.

The North's rhetoric has pushed the United States, the guarantor of South Korea's security, to move more military assets into the region in response to the rising threat levels.

In Washington, U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel warned on Wednesday that the North was "skating very close to a dangerous line" with its threats and provocations, and warned the United States was prepared to respond to any moves by Pyongyang.

"We have every capacity to deal with any action that North Korea would take, to protect this country and the interests of this country and our allies," Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.

China, the North's only major diplomatic ally, has watched the situation evolving on its doorstep with concern.

"China respects North Korea, but it also holds the responsibility of preserving peace in Northeast Asia," the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, said in an editorial.

"Pyongyang should drop its illusions that it can make the world stay silent over its desire for nuclear arms through its hard-line stance and deceptions. We believe the North still has a chance and we regret that it has become mired in this crisis. We hope the crisis is only temporary."

Financial markets which have fluctuated with the rise in tensions appeared to have stabilised and the head of South Korea's central bank on Thursday announced that there was no imminent threat to Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"We will take appropriate action if the economy is affected by North Korea risks," Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong-soo said after it left interest rates unchanged on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Daum Kim in SEOUL; and John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.N. talks with Syria on chemical arms probe at impasse

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:36 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Discussions between the United Nations and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government on a possible investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria have reached an impasse, U.N. diplomats said on Wednesday.

A view shows debris along a street of damaged buildings by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Thair al-Khalidi/Shaam News Network/Handout

A view shows debris along a street of damaged buildings by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Thair al-Khalidi/Shaam News Network/Handout

Syria and the United Nations have been exchanging letters for weeks but the two sides are far from agreement on how the investigation should be run, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

Syria has asked the United Nations only to investigate what it says was a rebel chemical attack near Aleppo last month. The opposition has blamed President Bashar al-Assad's forces for that strike and also wants the U.N. team to look into other alleged chemical attacks by the government.

There have been three alleged chemical weapons attacks - the one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and one in Homs in December. The rebels and Assad's government blame each other for all of them.

So far, the Syrians are refusing to let inspectors go anywhere but Aleppo, while the United Nations is insisting that the team goes to both Aleppo and Homs. France and Britain wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month saying the mission should look into all three cases.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry restated that position in a news release on Monday, saying the U.N. request to go anywhere in Syria where chemical weapons may have been used was not in keeping with the Syrian government's original request.

In an April 6 letter from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem to Ban, obtained by Reuters, Assad's government said the inspectors should go first to Aleppo and if they are seen to be impartial, the possibility of visiting Homs could be discussed.

"After the mission completes its work, and ascertaining its honesty and neutrality and the credibility of its work away from politicization, it may be possible to look into the Homs claims," the letter said.

Moualem also complained about the leak of previous letters exchanged between Syria and the United Nations to Reuters, saying it "left the impression of a lack of seriousness on the part of the (U.N.) secretariat on cooperation in good faith."

The United Nations said it was studying a recent Syrian letter, although it was not immediately clear if that letter was Moualem's or a more recent one.


Moualem offered Syrian planes that would have the U.N. logo painted on them "to ensure the safety of the (inspection) team members in view of the prevailing security situation."

Western delegations said the Syrian response of April 6 was unacceptable and that the chemical weapons team must have assurances now that it can visit both Aleppo and Homs.

After meeting in The Hague with the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, which is providing scientists and equipment for the inspection team, Ban said an advance team was in Cyprus, ready to go to Syria within 24 hours.

Britain, France and the Americans have given Ban information about the possible use of chemical weapons in Aleppo and Homs, U.N. diplomats said.

"He (Ban Ki-moon) recognized that there is sufficient evidence to investigate both in Homs and in Aleppo," the senior diplomat said.

"They should not go in to investigate the one incident if they are told by the Syrians that they can't investigate the second incident," the diplomat said. "So we would hope that the U.N. would not do that."

The United Nations has two options, diplomats said, if Syria refuses to promise the mission can visit Homs, starting with Ban reporting back to U.N. member states that the Syrians are not cooperating.

"Or you can continue the investigation but outside Syria in terms of investigating witnesses in the camps," the senior diplomat said. "There may be some physical evidence of people who have been poisoned (who are now) outside Syria."

An earlier exchange of letters between Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, and U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane highlighted other conditions Assad's government wants on the inspections, U.N. diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

Ja'afari insisted on appointing an observer to accompany the inspection team and wanted duplicates of any samples taken to test for chemical weapons traces, the diplomats told Reuters.

There will be at least 15 members of the inspection team, mainly from Nordic countries, Latin America or Asia. None of them is from a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

According to Western intelligence agencies, Syria is believed to have one of the largest remaining stockpiles of undeclared chemical weapons in the world.

If it goes ahead, the investigation will try to determine only if chemical weapons were used, not who used them. If it is confirmed that the weapons were used, it would be the first time in the 2-year-old Syrian conflict.

The United Nations estimates the Syrian conflict has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths.

(Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi in Dubai; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Venezuela's opposition denies it would scrap Chavez welfare aid

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:14 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles denied on Wednesday accusations from acting President Nicolas Maduro that he would scrap popular welfare policies if he wins Sunday's election.

Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles blows a kiss to supporters during a campaign rally in the state of Zulia April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles blows a kiss to supporters during a campaign rally in the state of Zulia April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Social "missions" in poor areas, from subsidized groceries to Cuban-staffed medical clinics, were a mainstay of the late Hugo Chavez's 14-year socialist rule and kept his popularity high.

His chosen successor, Maduro, 50, says he is the guarantor of their continuation and accuses Capriles of planning to disband the missions and also privatize state oil company PDVSA, whose export revenues fund the projects.

That, said Capriles at a dawn campaign event, was nonsense and scaremongering. The 40-year-old state governor likes to show off his social record in Miranda state and describes himself as a "progressive," but he is depicted by Maduro as a right-wing puppet of Venezuela's wealthy elite and U.S. interests.

Rather than end the missions, Capriles said he would improve, expand and de-politicize them.

"Simply being Venezuelan will give people the right to free education, quality healthcare, social security and housing," he said. "In our plans there will be no blackmailing ... People will not have to be members of a political party to get aid."

Capriles, who has shown plenty of Chavez-style populist traits himself, listed his social policy plans from a 40 percent rise in the minimum wage to subsidized medicines.

"The government elite get annoyed because they want total control over the missions as if they belonged to them. They don't understand they belong to Venezuelans, not those who put the red shirt on," he added, referring to the colour of the ruling Socialist Party.

"Don't be deceived, the missions are not going to be ended. The government says that to cheat people and have control."


Accusations and insults have been flying between both camps in the frantic run-up to Sunday's vote for leadership of the South American OPEC nation of 29 million people.

Most polls have shown Maduro comfortably ahead, but a couple of the latest weekly surveys put the gap at below 10 points and Capriles' camp believes the opposition is on a late surge as emotion over Chavez's March 5 death from cancer wanes.

Maduro, a former bus driver who rose to be Chavez's vice-president, has been playing up his working-class roots in contrast to Capriles' wealthy family background. His former boss successfully played Venezuela's class politics for years to guarantee passionate support among the poor.

"The little bourgeois doesn't know what it's like to get up at four in the morning, have a coffee and half a piece of bread, then go to work early to keep a family," Maduro told a rally late on Tuesday.

"The only thing he knows is how to count the money gained from exploiting consumers."

Maduro also received a celebrity boost from former Argentine football star Diego Maradona, an avowed supporter of Latin American leftists, including Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Chavez.

Maradona was to appear at Maduro's closing campaign rally in Caracas on Thursday, the acting president said.

Venezuela's election will not only determine the future of "Chavismo" socialism in Venezuela but also who controls the world's largest oil reserves and whether aid to a clutch of left-leaning nations around the region will continue.

Maduro is campaigning on Chavez's legacy, while Capriles wants to implement a Brazilian-style political model.

The winner faces a complicated set of problems, including strained state coffers after last year's heavy election spending, the highest inflation in the Americas, crime rates among the world's highest, and stuttering services.

(Editing by Eric Beech and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Network considers 'Breaking Bad' spin-off

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 08:45 PM PDT

American cable network AMC is considering extending the series Breaking Bad, which is soon coming to an end, through a more comedy-oriented spin-off that will focus on Saul Goodman, the corrupt lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk (pic).

The network will start airing the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad in July but it hopes to keeps the series -- which was a hit with both viewers and critics -- going.

The show's creator, Vince Gilligan, came up with the idea and will be responsible for the spin-off.

Saul Goodman is a corrupt lawyer who appeared during the second season, bringing a touch of humor to the show.

The drug dealers enlisted his services when one of their dealers was put in prison. Goodman went on to become their associate and helped them distribute their product and launder their money.

Breaking Bad will be back in the United States on 14 July for the second part of its fifth and last season.


Alec Baldwin in early talks for NBC late show

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 08:36 PM PDT

Actor Alec Baldwin is apparently in talks to stay at NBC despite the fact that his comedy 30 Rock came to an end in January.

According to the New York Times, the network would like to keep him on as host of a late evening show.

The actor has shown his comedic chops during his seven years on 30 Rock and his many appearances on Saturday Night Live.

NBC is considering putting his experience to good use by giving him a late night show that would be aired three nights a week.

His program would replace Jimmy Fallon's talk show, since the latter will be replacing Jay Leno in 2014 as the host of the Tonight Show.

Alex Baldwin and NBC have only just started talks. The actor is currently filming Woody Allen's next movie, Blue Jasmine.


Betty White is the most appealing celeb

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 08:29 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The honors keep pouring in for 91-year-old actress Betty White, who has been named America's most appealing celebrity, according to a market research firm.

White, who stars on the sit-com Hot In Cleveland, narrowly topped Oscar-winners Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, and other celebrities such as singer Adele and Dame Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey fame on E-Poll Market Research's annual "appeal" list for 2012.

It was White's third time at the top of the list, which was released on Wednesday.

Others making the list's top 10 included Morgan Freeman, Carol Burnett, actress and recording star Cote de Pablo, NCIS TV star Pauley Perrette and Olympian Gabby Douglas.

Robin Williams and Clint Eastwood dropped out of the top 10.

White has collected Screen Actors Guild awards for her current show, hosted Saturday Night Live in 2010 and was recently rated as the most popular and trusted celebrity in other national polls.

The ratings also looked at which celebrities saw the biggest gains in their appeal factor last year, with Olympic athletes Misty May Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Aly Raisman and Michael Phelps all making the top 10, likely due to exposure from the 2012 Summer Games in London.

The biggest decliners in appeal included outspoken American Idol judge Nicki Minaj and comedian Andy Stamberg, who ended his long tenure on Saturday Night Live.

The ratings were collated by consumer research firm E-Poll Market Research, which ranks some 7,500 celebrities in entertainment, business, politics and sports based on a national sample of 1,100 respondents ages 13 and up who evaluate them in terms of familiarity, appeal and 46 personality attributes.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Tough road ahead for India carmakers Fall in sales worst since 2001

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:40 PM PDT

MUMBAI: India's annual car sales fell for the first time in a decade in the financial year just ended and are expected to post subdued growth this year, calling into question bullish expectations that fuelled billion-dollar bets from global manufacturers.

Carmakers in India, two years ago the world's hottest growth market after China, have seen high interest rates, rising fuel prices and prolonged economic gloom turn an industry recently growing at 30% a year into one plagued by huge discounts, showrooms full of unsold cars, and chronic overcapacity.

Quitting India is not an option for global majors such as Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, given its huge population, rising incomes and long-term potential.

But manufacturers that have sunk huge amounts of cash into the country are likely to pare back expansion plans as economic troubles persist, and the industry braces for another year of disappointing sales.

"The industry, like the rest of the economy, has slowed down very substantially," R.C. Bhargava, chairman of market leader Maruti Suzuki, told Reuters.

While surging sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have been a bright spot for some manufacturers, sales of the smaller cars that account for most of the passenger vehicle market have crashed this year.

"Everything has slowed down by two to three years," Bhargava said. "Everybody has to consolidate their operations, look how to manage with less, do more with less ... This recessionary period will force people to be more efficient."

Car sales in the financial year that ended March 31 fell an annual 6.7%, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) released yesterday, after sales in March fell an annual 22.5%.

The drop is the worst since the financial year that ended in 2001, when sales fell 7.7%, according to SIAM. Last year, India's car sales grew 2.2%.

The immediate future looks mostly gloomy for an industry that experts had expected to ring up annual car sales of 9 million by 2020 from a current 1.9 million, but looks set to significantly undershoot that target.

"I don't think those goals are going to happen in that timeframe," said Bhargava. "Conditions have changed a lot"

Car sales were likely to grow by 3%-5% in the financial year that began on April 1, SIAM said.

SIAM initially estimated 10%-12% growth for the last financial year, but was forced to slash that forecast three times in the face of actual sales figures. - Reuters


Indonesia’s oil drying up

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:35 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: Indonesia's oil export revenue is falling far below government expectations as output drops to a more than 40-year low, piling pressure on authorities to confront a widening trade deficit fuelled by energy subsidies that encourage consumption.

Aging fields and years of scant new discoveries mean Indonesia is exporting less crude, bringing home to the former Opec member the US$22bil cost 4% of economic output last year of its generous subsidy programme.

Crude and oil products export revenue for the first two months of the year have fallen 23% to US$2.2bil compared with the same period last year, while oil imports by value are up 16%, according to the statistics bureau.

That has translated into an oil trade deficit of US$4.9bil so far this year, widening from US$3.2bil a year ago.

"Fuel consumption and imports are surging on cheap fuel, with subsidised prices some 60% below international prices, and buoyant domestic demand," said Chua Hak Bin, head of emerging Asia economics global research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"We expect the government to introduce some rationing scheme or hike subsidised fuel prices in the coming months to contain the escalating fiscal costs and widening oil trade deficit."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could announce next week new measures to restrict the use of energy subsidies, which have provided Indonesians with the cheapest fuel in Asia.

But with elections looming next year, and memories of violent protests over fuel-price rises in 2005 and 2008, he is expected to bow to populist wishes and not scrap subsidies.

Instead, the president is considering a ban on the use of subsidised fuel by the nation's 11 million private cars, a move that could save the government US$8.6bil this year and erase a fiscal deficit, a presidential adviser said.

Indonesia's overall trade deficit widened to US$330mil in February, up from US$70mil the previous month.

Indonesia's state budget for 2013 has set an oil output target of 900,000 barrels per day, but the country's energy regulator SKKMigas said production was more likely to average around 830,000 bpd. That would be the lowest since 1969.

The government's take of total oil and gas revenues is expected to be about US$30bil or about 20% of the budget for this year, according to SKKMigas, sharply lower than the one-third that oil and gas sales contributed to state coffers each year back when Indonesia was a net exporter and a member of Opec.

Unless price increases can offset falling production or Indonesia can reverse the output decline, the contribution oil and gas makes to state will likely continue to fall.

Indonesia has often fallen short of production targets, with crude and condensate output declining at an annual rate of 3.8% between 1998 and 2011.

The production decline has mainly impacted exports as Indonesia now keeps the bulk of its output for domestic use, but it has also had to increase its imports of refined products as subsidies push up the use of cheap fuel.

Indonesia's crude export revenue will likely drop further this year as ample oil supplies weigh on prices while its top buyer Japan aims to reduce expensive oil imports for power use.

"This is definitely not great news for the trade deficit, but we have to remember that crude oil exports have not been a key driver of overall exports," said Lim Su Sian, an economist with HSBC. Reuters


Franchise sector targeting to contribute RM24bil to M'sian GDP this year

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:32 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is positive on the growth of the franchise industry, targeting it to contribute some RM24bil to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) this year, said Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Last year, the franchise industry made up about 2.5% of total GDP, amounting to some RM24.3bil, surpassing the RM22.5bil target for the year.

It had been previously reported that the Government was targeting a 9.4% contribution from the industry to the country's GDP by 2020.

Speaking to reporters after the Franchise International Malaysia (FIM) 2013 soft launch yesterday, Ismail said: "The expected increase of RM1.5bil from last year's target is considered reasonable, given that we are including the micro-franchisors' contribution to the industry."

Last year, the Government had introduced the micro franchise scheme with an allocation of RM8mil under the National Franchise Blueprint.

"To date, RM6mil in loans have been disbursed from the RM8mil allocation.

"There is a possibility of us allocating more to the scheme if it's fully utilised," Ismail said.

He said FIM 2013 had entered into its 20th edition and would be organised together with the hosting of the World Franchise Council (WFC) and the Asia Pacific Franchise Confederation Annual Meeting by Malaysia this year.

WFC is the master franchise organisation' represented by 45 countries worldwide, including the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Japan and India.

"I hope that all entrepreneurs, investors, players and those who are interested to venture into the franchise industry would attend this programme, which would be held at the Putra World Trade Centre from Sept 20 to 22," he noted.

Also present at the soft launch was Malaysia Franchise Association (MFA) chairman Abdul Malik Abdullah, who said: "This year, FIM is expected to achieve RM370mil in sales transaction. We are confident of attracting 11,000 visitors and would have about 130 exhibitors."

Last year, FIM chalked up RM356mil in sales as opposed to the RM352mil in 2011.

Said Abdul Malik, among the 130 exhibitors, local exhibitors would account for 75% of the total number of exhibitors, with the rest being foreign exhibitors.

"We are targeting at least 15 countries to participate in this event, and at the moment, we have secured about seven coutries," he added.

He said the main objective of FIM was to promote franchise products to the public and potential entrepreneurs through the involvement of franchisors in the exhibition as well as to increase the awareness of the public and new entrepreneurs.

FIM is jointly organised by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism and MFA and was introduced in 1994.


Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

All eyes on Lin Dan as he returns after eight-month break

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:26 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It's been almost eight months since the world last saw Super Dan in action. So, it's no surprise that everyone will be closely following Lin Dan's exploits at the Asian Badminton Championships in Taiwan from April 16-21

And Malaysia's national singles coach Tey Seu Bock is one of them.

In fact, Seu Bock said he would not be surprised to see the four-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion getting off to a brilliant start despite the long break.

Lin Dan has been entered for the regional meet with four others from China – Chen Long, Du Pengyu, Wang Zhengming and Gao Huan. Former world champion Chen Jin's name was also listed but he has withdrawn.

Ironically, only world No. 40 Lin Dan will not be seeded among his compatriots for the tournament.

The ABC is Lin Dan's first tournament since his sensational win over world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the final of the London Olympic Games in August.

The long absence has seen the 29-year-old Lin Dan's ranking plunge from No. 2 to No. 40 in the world – despite the fact that he has won every major title in the world.

But let's not get too far ahead. Let's see if Lin Dan shows up or not first, says Seu Bock.

"China have entered his name but we're not sure if he'll even play. He had withdrawn from tournaments before," said Seu Bock.

"But if he shows up, I don't think he'll be under-prepared. We'll probably see him play at 80% of his best. Usually, the top players do not show a drastic drop in form. He'll be the most dangerous unseeded player in the meet."

Lin Dan is drawn in the lower half with second seed Du Pengyu, third seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong, fifth seed Nguyen Tine Minh and ninth seed Liew Daren. In the top half, the favourite to enter the final is reigning All-England champion Chen Long.

Meanwhile, Seu Bock has more pressing matters on his mind – like trying to revive Chong Wei's confidence after his semi-final loss to 2009 World Junior champion Tian Houwei in the Australian Open Grand Prix in Sydney last week.

Seu Bock believes that China are using different players with different styles to demoralise Chong Wei.

"Houwei played a different game against Chong Wei and it caught our man off guard. Besides, Chong Wei was not at his best. But it's a minor setback," said Seu Bock.

"Like Lin Dan, Chong Wei has a strong will and should be back at his best in no time."

Frustrated Chin Chai plans to crack the whip as shuttlers fail to meet the mark

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:26 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Except for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, the first quarter of this year has been quite a disaster for Malaysia's top shuttlers.

And Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching and training committee chairman Ng Chin Chai is ready to take the national coaches to task at a meeting soon.

Chin Chai said that some of the players would be dropped once they have assessed the shuttlers' performances over the last three months.

Those expected to be axed are some who were promoted from the Bukit Jalil Sports School.

Only Chong Wei won two major titles – the Malaysian Open and Korean Open in January. He also did well to reach the final of the All-England before bowing out to China's Chen Long.

The doubles won two other titles. Women's doubles Amelia Anselly-Soong Fie Cho won the Iran International Challenge and men's doubles pair of Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi captured the Finland Open on Sunday.

None of the others, especially the second stringers, were able to achieve any breakthroughs.

"We wanted to hold the meeting earlier but decided to wait for the dates for the general election to be finalised. Now, I will set a date for the coaching and training committee meeting," said Chin Chai.

The biggest disappointments was probably the men's doubles as Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong failed to come good in any of the tournaments so far this year.

There was also a setback for promising pair Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem when they failed to book their tickets for the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.

The world No. 14 will have to do well in the ongoing New Zealand Open in Auckland and next week's Asian Badminton Championships in Taiwan if they hope to make the cut.


(Matches involving Malaysians only)

First round
Men's singles:
Parinyawat Thongnuam (Tha) bt K. Yogendran 20-22, 21-19, 21-15; Ajay Jayaram (Ind) bt Winson Neo 21-5, 22-20; Bong Guang Yik bt Low Pit Seng (Aus) 21-5, 21-7; Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo (Ina) bt Chan Kwong Beng 21-18, 21-23, 21-16; Chong Kien Hiung bt Adulrach Namkul (Tha) 18-21, 21-17, 21-17; Beryno Wong Jiann Tze bt Yang Jie (Aus) 21-14, 21-15; Arvind Bhat (Ind) bt Lim Fu Yu 21-9, 21-13; Andre Kurniawan Tedjono (Ina) bt Tan Vi Hen 21-10, 21-15; Chiang Jiann Shiarng bt Nicholas Bonkowsky (Tri) 21-6, 21-10; Kuan Beng Hong bt Joe Wu (Nzl) 21-16, 21-19; Hsu Jen-hao (Tpe) bt Ian Wong Jien Sern 21-16, 21-19.

Pandelela to face strong rivals in FINA Diving World Series

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:34 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Diver Pandelela Rinong will have to raise her game if she hopes to make the podium in the third leg of the FINA Diving World Series in Edinburgh next weekend.

Pandelela returned to competition for the first time since the London Olympics to clinch a bronze medal in the individual platform in last month's opening leg in Beijing.

Despite scoring higher in the following leg in Dubai, Pandelela had to be contented with only a fifth placing.

She scored 337.75 points in Beijing and 353.50 points in Dubai.

It will be a tougher field in Edinburgh as China have decided to exercise their option of entering a second diver – untested rookie Si Yajie – alongside reigning world and Olympic champion Chen Ruolin.

Canadian Meaghan Benfeito, who took silver behind Ruolin in Beijing and Dubai, is skipping the third leg but Australia's Olympic silver medallist Brittany Broben, Mexico's Orozco Alejandra and Russia's Yulia Koltunova, bronze medallist in Dubai, will be present in Edinburgh.

Coach Yang Zhuliang, though happy with Pandelela's progress in both the legs, feels that she needs to do better.

"I believe she was slightly nervous as she had just recovered from an ankle problem which kept her out of competitions," he said.

"Her rivals are pushing hard and she needs to make progress or she'll be left behind.

"China have two divers next weekend. The second diver may have little experience but her skills are good enough to fight for a podium finish ... otherwise China will not field her.

"It'll be a very close fight for the medals if everyone gives her best."

Pandelela will be on double duty as she is also partnering Cheong Jun Hoong in the women's 10m platform synchro.

Zhuliang is resting Leong Mun Yee from the Edinburgh trip as he continues with his experiments before deciding on the strongest partnership for the World Championships in Barcelona in July.

Jun Hoong will also combine with Wendy Ng Yan Yee in the 3m springboard synchro while Ahmad Amsyar will combine with Ooi Tze Liang in the men's 3m springboard synchro in Edinburgh.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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The French fest returns

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 01:55 AM PDT

FANS of French cinema, art and culture, take note. Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur (AFKL) and the Embassy of France to Malaysia with the support of the Institute Francais are proud to present the 12th edition of The French Art and Film Festival (FAFF).

The FAFF will take place between April 25 and May 12 in Kuala Lumpur and from May 16 to May 26 in Penang.

The movies will be screened at GSC Movies' International Screens – Pavilion, Mid Valley Megamall and 1 Utama in the Klang Valley, and Gurney Plaza in Penang. It will feature 15 of the latest offerings in French cinema. Selections include three Juliette Binoche films, animated fairy tale Kerity la maison des contes (Elenor's Secret) and Comme Un Chef (The Chef) starring Jean Reno.

French art aficionados can also look forward to a photography exhibition featuring the works of Françoise Huguier and two street theatre sessions. There will also be a wine tasting session and a French market that showcases some of the best culinary and lifestyle products the country has to offer.

FAFF 2013 is presented by Martell, with TNT Express, Crown Worldwide, BNP Paribas, Intermovers, DCNS, Lafarge, Escatec, Total, L'Occitane, The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Air France and MFCCI as partners.

For more information, log on to www.faff.com.my.

'Amelie' actress Audrey Tautou to host Cannes opening ceremony

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 12:46 AM PDT

PARIS (AFP) - French actress Audrey Tautou, best known for the 2001 film Amelie, will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival next month, one of the organisers said on Tuesday.

The opening ceremony of the 66th Cannes Film Festival will take place on 15 May with the closing ceremony on 26 May, pay-TV operator Canal+ said.

Director Steven Spielberg has already been announced as the head of the festival jury.

Amelie, set in Montmartre, was a critical and box office success in which Tautou played a shy waitress who set out to improve the lives of those around her.

Tautou's latest film L'Ecume des Jours (Mood Indigo) by director Michel Gondry, opens in France later this month.

An adaptation of the Francois Mauriac novel Therese Desqueyroux, in which she starred, closed the festival last year.

The 2012 opening and closing ceremonies were hosted by The Artist star Berenice Bejo.

Luke Evans will be the new Dracula

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 12:32 AM PDT

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that British actor Luke Evans will play the lead in a movie about Count Dracula's beginnings.

Thirty-three-year-old Evans (pic) has stepped in to save this project, which started in the late 2000s under the working title Dracula Year Zero.

Sam Worthington toyed with the lead role around the time Alex Proyas wanted to direct the movie. The movie, now simply called Dracula, has the support of Universal. Gary Shore, a publicist who is moving into fiction, will direct the movie before the year is out.

The story will center on the events that led to the Romanian prince Vlad Tepes's becoming the first vampire in the history of the 15th century.


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GE13: PAS, PKR to deck it out in Sungai Acheh as both parties name candidates

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 08:48 AM PDT

KEPALA BATAS: Penang PAS sprang a surprise when it announced Penang youth chief Mohd Yusni Mat Piah as its candidate for the Sungai Acheh state seat, even though its Pakatan Rakyat partner PKR had said it would field Badrul Hisham Shaharin (popularly known as Chegu Bard) for the same seat on Tuesday.

Yusni, 39, claimed it was originally a PAS seat that was "loaned" to PKR during the 2008 general election.

The seat was won by Barisan Nasional's Datuk Mahmud Zakaria.

Penang PAS also picked corporate figure Datuk Abdul Rahman Maidin to contest the Tasek Gelugor parliamentary seat in the upcoming general election.

The former Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) executive chairman and former Felda Plantations chief executive officer is expected to take on Barisan's Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

Penang-born Abdul Rahman, who is also former National Malay Chamber of Commerce president, joined PAS in December last year.

Their candidacies were announced by state PAS commissioner Datuk Mohd Salleh Man along with the party's other candidates at the PAS headquarters in Pongsu Seribu here on Wednesday night.

Penang PAS Youth secretary Afnan Hamimi Taib Azamudden, who is also the son of Baling MP Datuk Taib Azamudden Md Taib, will contest the Kepala Batas parliamentary seat.

Afnan, a businessman, is a graduate from University Al-Azhar Egypt and an exco member of the national PAS Youth.

Mohd Salleh, who is also Penang Islamic Religious Council president, will defend the Permatang Pasir state seat, which he won by a comfortable 4,551-vote majority during a by-election on Aug 25, 2009.

Penang PAS election director Rosidi Hussain has been picked to contest the Penaga seat.

The 42-year old lawyer from Taman Bertam Indah here is also Pakatan Rakyat's Penaga constituency co-ordinator and Kepala Batas PAS division chief.

Zahadi Mohamad, who took over as Pakatan's Sungai Dua constituency co-ordinator from Fahmi Abdul Wahab who passed away on Apr 22 last year, will contest the Sungai Dua seat.

Zahadi, also known as Cikgu Zahadi, a former teacher, is the PAS Tasek Gelugor division vice-chairman.

Arshad Md Salleh, who lost to Umno's Shabudin Yahya in Permatang Berangan by a 1,985-vote majority in the 2008 general election, will contest there again.

Arshad, 62, better known as Pak Chad, a former National Registration Department officer, is Pakatan's Permatang Berangan constituency co-ordinator and Penang PAS committee member.

Former teacher, Asnah Hashim, who lost to Barisan's Syed Ameruddin Syed Ahmad by a narrow 399 votes in Bayan Lepas in the last general election, will try her luck as PAS's candidate in the same seat again.

Asnah is the Penang PAS Bayan Baru Muslimat chief and committee member of Penang PAS Muslimat Committee.

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

GE13: Potential Gelang Patah combatants Kit Siang and Teoh come face-to-face at temple function

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:18 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: It was a rare sight indeed when Gelang Patah MCA chairman Jason Teoh came face-to-face with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang while visiting a Chinese temple function here Wednesday night.

Both men are set to go on a head-to-head battle to win the hearts of the voters and secure the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat for the 13th general election.

Although not officially named as a candidate, Teoh, who has been campaigning in the area for more than one year, quickly walked up to the veteran politician and extended his hand with a wide smile, when he stumbled across Lim at the event.

The men did not speak to each other, but they smiled warmly and politely posed for photographs while floats drove along and beats of the gong went off in the background.

Several minutes later, both men parted ways and continued greeting other devotees.

Teoh was seen accompanying the procession from the temple in Taman Harmoni 1 here while Lim, who was accompanied by state DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau, was seen speaking to some of the people and later leaving the function.

The 13th general election will be held on May 5.

Related Stories:
GE13: Red-hot battle in Johor
GE13: Polls on May 5, EC announces

Flash floods hit KL

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 07:08 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A late evening thundersorm triggered flash floods and casued heavy traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Roads affected by flash floods were Jalan Parlimen, Jalan Pudu, Jalan Cheras Lama, Jalan Chan Sow Lin and Jalan Segambut, said the Fire and Rescue Department.

Among the roads that experienced heavy traffic congestion were Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Duta, the Mahameru Highway and the Federal Highway.

The SMART tunnel remained open to traffic in both directions.

There was another report of an uprooted tree in the National Mosque parking lot due to the storm, which struck at around 5.30pm, whcih was removed by City Hall workers.

Motorists caught in the heavy traffic and flash floods took to Twitter to share the information, sending images and warnings to other users to avoid the affected stretches.

Posts also reported flash flooding at the Jalan Duta tunnel, Jalan Pahang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Maharajalela, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Dang Wangi, Jalan Genting Klang, Jalan Syed Putra and around the KLCC area.

Twitter user Nizam Shamsury tweeted an image of a congested road in the thunderstorm with the message "heavy rain with thunderstorm in KL, drive carefully guys".

Another user @christinaaong tweeted that she saw five cars that were partly submerged by the flash flood.

Television personality Will Quah also warned other users of flash floods, tweeting that "If you were thinking of taking Jalan Parlimen into KL, don't. Unless you're going by boat".

The Malaysian Meteorological Department had forecasted scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon and isolated rains on Wednesday night in Kuala Lumpur.

A check on the department's seven-day forecast stated that the city might be experiencing rain again Thursday.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Watch out

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:46 AM PDT


New Pantai Expressway Sdn Bhd will be diverting traffic from the main route to Jalan Templer beginning April 2, from 6.30am to 9am, to ease congestion during peak hours. Vehicles from Subang Jaya will only be allowed to use the left lane to get on to Jalan Templer and Jalan Klang Lama; vehicles from Maju Jaya and Federal Highway will only be allowed to use the route on the right to Kuala Lumpur and Seremban via New Pantai Expressway. For enquiries, call 1300-88-1010.

Lay-by closure

The Serdang lay-by on the North-South Expressway will be temporarily closed for maintenance from 8.30am-5.30pm today at Serdang lay-by (north-bound) at KM306.2 and tomorrow at Serdang lay-by (south-bound) at KM308.2. All stalls and other public facilities at the rest area will be closed to the public. For details, call 1800-88-0000.


Petaling Jaya City Council (MPBJ) will be opening its EZ-Pay mobile counter from 10am to 3pm throughout this month. It offers services such as checking and paying assessment tax, compounds and other council-related bills, as well as lodging council-related complaints. It will be located at SS6 (near Giant Kelana Jaya) from April 8 to 14, Jalan SD 12/1 (near McDonald's and Mobil) from April 15 to 21, and PJU 10, Damansara Damai (near McDonald's and Shell) from April 22 to 27. For enquiries, call 03-7954 2020.


Children are invited to colour their way to amazing prizes by joining the Kuntum-Dutch Lady Colouring Contest 2013 on April 20 from 8am to 1pm at Space u8, Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam. The contest is open to all primary school pupils aged between seven and 12. Registration is free. Entry forms can be downloaded via www.ekuntum.com.my. For details, call 03-7967 1388 ext 1529 / 1466.


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) will be having a free public talk on "Enriching Life with Common Sense, Philosophy & Realisation" this Saturday from 10am to noon at UTAR, PD Block, Level B1, No. 9 Jalan Bersatu 13/4, Petaling Jaya. For enquiries, contact Rodhiah/ Izad Ismat at 03-7957 2818 or email ceetalkpj@utar.edu.my

Space observation

The National Planetarium is inviting the public to participate in the "Partial Lunar Eclipse and Planet Saturn Observation" programme on April 26 from 3am-6am at its compound, Lot 54, Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur. For enquiries, call Asmidar Zainol at 03-2273 4301/ 4303/ 5484 or visit www.angkasa.gov.my/planetarium


WIM College is conducting a free seminar on IT security issues on Saturday from 9.45am to noon at Wisma WIM, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur. The seminar will provide participants with an understanding on security issues in using technology today. To register, call Evelyn at 03-7725 0268/ 88 or email your name and contact number to gkh@wimnet.org.my


YMCA Kuala Lumpur will be having a blood donation drive in support of the National Blood Bank on Friday from 10am to 4pm at Lee Kong Chian Hall, YMCA KL, 95 Jalan Padang Belia, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 03-2274 1439 or visit www.ymcakl.com

Teenager emerges tops in girls’ Under-15 and Under-17 foil contests

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 06:46 AM PDT

IT WAS double joy for foil exponent Tyanne Fong of Kuala Lumpur at the recent national fencing championships held at the National Sports Council in Bukit Jalil last month.

The 15-year-old Sri Cempaka, Damansara Heights student emerged as the champion in the both the girls' Under-15 and Under-17 foil contests.

In the Under-15 age-group, Tyanne flexed her domination by chalking up five wins in the group stages and advanced to the elimination round as the second seed.

Tyanne did not face much difficulty in the knock-out stages and went on to end the gallant run of teammate Brittni Tye from Kuala Lumpur with a 15-10 win in the final.

Earlier, Brittni created an upset in the top half of the draw when she upstaged top seed Nurfatiha Jalani of Johor with a 15-11 victory for a place in the final.

In the girls' Under-17 foil final, Tyanne scored an untroubled 15-6 win over teammate Daevina Summugam of Kuala Lumpur.

Despite maintaining her winning streak in the girls' Under-17 foil, Tyanne needed a big push to match her peers at international junior meets, said Touche Fencing Club chief coach C.W. Mok.

"She has the advantage and holds the edge against other challengers in her age-group at the national level. Her immediate aim is to stay competitive against her peers in the South-East Asia region," Mok added.

Earlier this year, Tyanne struggled to make an impact at the South-East Asia Fencing Federation (SEAFF) cadet (Under-17) and junior (Under-20) championships in Brunei.

"It is going to be an interesting journey for her to bridge the gap against the leading contenders especially from Singapore and Vietnam. She should be ready to put up more respectable performances in the cadet section at regional level within the next two years. Besides improving her combative skills, she needs to develop a stronger physique. She is still not up to mark with her current stamina and strength.

"For her to gain exposure sparring against tougher opponents, we are planning for her to join an international training stint as part of the club's year-end programme," said Mok, adding that they were also considering to acquire the services of a physical trainer to beef up their trainees' physical condition.

Currently, Tyanne is training up to three times a week and she is vying for a place to feature in the upcoming Malaysia Games in Kuala Lumpur from June 28 to July 7.



- Foil: Ashwin Selvan (Kul) bt Megat Muhammad Aiman Mirza (Kul) 10-5

- Sabre: Jireh Gan (Kul) bt Jack Chua Ian Xian (Kul) 10-1


- Epee: Muhd Mirza Merican (Sel) bt Mohd Isa Tarmizi (Sel) 15-14

- Foil: Bryan Mok (Pen) bt Tristan Cheng (Kul) 15-10


- Epee: Mohd Ammaraluddin Daud (Joh) bt Chung Hanwen (Kul) 15-6

- Foil: Megat Zuhril Megat Zariman (Ter) bt Daniel Abu Bakar (Joh) 15-8

- Sabre: Calvin Ong (Put) bt Kua Kim Yong (Sel) 15-6



- Foil: Jeanne Leia Alis Junady (Kul) bt Julia Loh (Kul) 10-4

- Sabre: Jerica Jemima Chen (Kul) bt Kuan Jin Xuan (Sel) 10-2


- Epee: Megan Pat Jeng Yi (Sel) bt Siti Syahirah Shiki Mohd Shazli (Sel) 15-14

- Foil: Tyanne Fong (Kul) bt Brittni Tye (Kul) 15-10


- Epee: Fatin Syariqah Samsudin (Joh) bt Zaharah Sailan Abdullah (Ter) 15-10

- Foil: Tyanne Fong (Kul) bt Daevina Summugam (Kul) 15-6

- Sabre: Joanne Jalizha Chen (Sel) bt Habibah Abidin (Joh) 15-0



- Epee: Nur Aina Jalil (Joh) bt Alethea Woo (Kul) 15-13

- Foil: Natasha Ezzra Abu Bakar (Joh) bt Nur Amalina Tukiman (Sel) 15-5

- Sabre: Ainul Latifah Mohd Taib (Joh) bt Joanne Jalizha Chen (Sel) 15-12


- Epee: Joshua Koh (Sel) bt Noor Nashriq Adli Noor Jali (Nse) 15-10

- Foil: Izzul Shawal Shamsudiin (Prk) bt Mohd Aqil Anuar (Joh) 15-9

- Sabre: Nurul Ariezzat Nazree (Nse) bt Adam Nicholas (Sab) 15-7

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Student leaders from school receive certificates of appointment

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 07:04 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: It was truly a delight for form five student Mohd Asyraf Fitri Mohamad when he received his certificate of appointment as the head prefect of SMK Taman Nusa Damai here.

The vibrant 17-year-old showed true integrity and leadership skills as he led the official pledge of the school during a presentation ceremony of appointment certificates for student leaders of the school recently.

Asyraf was offered a place at SMK Taman Nusa Damai boarding school last year and he believes that mingling around with his peers enhanced his leadership skills.

"I believe that my leadership skills comes naturally as I am the eldest among five siblings.

"However, back in my previous school I was a little reserved to apply for a position as a prefect," he said.

He added that after much persuasion from teachers in school, he decided to take responsibility as a school prefect last year.

"I have been actively participating in co-curriculum activities since I was young but could never gather up enough courage to join the prefect body," he said

The charismatic student believes that students should not hold back in getting involved with school activities and being in the frontline to show their talents.

"Everyone has their own talents, but students often waste it or are too shy to come forward to show them," he said adding that students should not shy away from their capabilities instead they should embrace and share it.

Asyraf also opined that leaders should understand and promote teamwork as a team can work smoothly only if there is good cooperation among the members.

"Understanding and listening to some 80 prefects can sometimes be exhausting but I believe it is important to hear all opinions and problems of my fellow prefects," he added.

Johor Special Branch chief SAC Datuk Ramli Hassan handed certificates to about 84 student leaders in the school comprising of school prefects, library prefects, class monitors, and even curriculum leaders.

In line with the upcoming general election, he also advised students to avoid involvement in political activities throughout the election period.

"Parents should also monitor their children whereabouts at all times especially at night," urged SAC Ramli adding that parties to ensure that underage students are not involved in such activities.

Parents worried of schools' inadequate facilities

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 07:06 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Parents raised their concerns over the well being of their children studying at SJKT Kangkar Pulai here as the insufficient facilities at the school are taking a toll on the students.

The school's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairperson M.Thirunavukarasu said that students have to bear with the hot weather during their school assembly, as the assembly site has no shade.

"They have to bear with the scorching weather and on rainy days the assembly will be cancelled," he said adding that the students are usually worn out by the time classes' start.

He added that students also had no choice but to walk some 300m up and down a steep hill daily to get to school from the main gate.

"We hope that the government will grant us an extra three acres of land beside the school to restructure the area near the main gate and expand the school field and also help us to overcome other problems," he said.

The PTA committee also presented a memorandum to the Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, when he visited the school here on Apr 4.

Wee said that he would take into account all the problems voiced out by the parents and take action to solve the problems faced by the children.

"The priority will be to build a roof for the assembly site for the student and teachers.

"However, the additional three acres of land cannot be promised because the land is privately owned," he added.

Wee also said that he would try to negotiate with the landowner to upgrade the school and lessen the burden of the students.

"We will thoroughly study the content of the memorandum and find for a long-term solution for the steep hill near the main gate of the school," he added.

Seven new Chinese schools delivered to the rakyat by the Govt

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 07:04 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: A groundbreaking ceremony for the RM21.5mil SJK (C) Pei Hwa 2 marked the fulfilment of the government's promise to build seven new Chinese schools here since 2008.

Pasir Gudang MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the school in Permas Jaya is expected to be operational in 2015.

"The Chinese community has voiced their concerns about a lack in Chinese schools and we made a promise by fulfilling it," he said, adding that this was unlike the Opposition who made empty promises to the people.

Mohamed Khaled, who is also Higher Education Minister commented on this after officiating the ceremony on behalf of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman recently.

The ceremony was also attended by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and several other state representatives.

Mohamed Khaled said the land where the school would be built on a 1.62ha land valued at RM8.7mil, was donated by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) Group of Companies who had also agreed to contribute an additional RM7.2mil for infrastructural works.

"The Federal Government has allocated RM5.5mil for the building of the school," he said.

Such, added the minister, is also one of the largest sites to be allocated to a Chinese school in the country.

Mohamed Khaled also thanked representatives from the MCA for bringing forward the issue and seeing it through.

"Without the MCA, there would be no one to speak for the Chinese community and ensure that their needs are met," he said.

The MCA, added Mohd Khaled, had played a role in establishing the new Chinese schools for the benefit of the community, unlike the Opposition who could not deliver.

"Who says that the government is sidelining Chinese education?," he questioned, while stating that the community had always been given priority with regards to higher education.

Mohd Khaled cited examples such as the status of Southern College and Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman (KTAR) which were upgraded to university college recently.

On top of that, he added that the Government had also provided special funding of up to RM60mil to KTAR to cover its capital expenditure and operations costs.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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