Khamis, 11 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates


Pentagon report says North Korea likely has nuclear tipped missiles

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 09:15 PM PDT

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon spy agency has concluded with "moderate confidence" that North Korea has developed a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile, an assessment swiftly dismissed by several U.S. officials and South Korea.

A rocket is fired during a drill of drone planes assaulting targets and a firing drill of self-propelled flak rocket destroying "enemy" cruise missiles coming in attack in low altitude, conducted by the air force and air defence artillery units of the Korean People's Army in an undisclosed location in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 20, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

A rocket is fired during a drill of drone planes assaulting targets and a firing drill of self-propelled flak rocket destroying "enemy" cruise missiles coming in attack in low altitude, conducted by the air force and air defence artillery units of the Korean People's Army in an undisclosed location in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 20, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said such a weapon would probably be unreliable. Its assessment, made public by a U.S. lawmaker in Washington, comes amid threats of war by North Korea and just hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Seoul on a visit to the region that will include stops in China and Japan.

South Korean and U.S. officials say Pyongyang appears set to test launch a medium-range missile as a show of strength ahead of the anniversary on Monday of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung.

South Korea's Defence Ministry however said it did not believe North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Despite the DIA report, the Pentagon's spokesman and the U.S. national intelligence director both said it was "inaccurate" to infer Pyongyang had the proven ability to launch a nuclear missile.

The DIA was criticised after the start of the Iraq war in 2003 for being too bullish in predicting Baghdad might have weapons of mass destruction.

Its conclusion about North Korea follows more than a month of rising tension on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea, claiming the United States is planning to invade, has threatened Washington and Seoul with nuclear war, although most experts say Pyongyang has no intention of starting a conflict that would likely bring its own destruction.

"DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low," Republican Representative Doug Lamborn said during a hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee in Washington.

He was quoting a report entitled "Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program (March 2013)".

A U.S. official said the quotation cited by Lamborn was in a section that had been erroneously marked unclassified. The study, dated last month, appeared to be the first time the agency had reached such a conclusion.

QUESTION OF MINIATURISATION

Seoul played down the report.

"Our military's assessment is that the North has not yet miniaturised," South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a news briefing.

"North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests but there is doubt whether it is at the stage where they can reduce the weight and miniaturise to mount on a missile."

Pyongyang has frequently cited the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as a reason it needed nuclear weapons, saying that without them, Washington would seek to topple its government too.

The United Nations sanctioned North Korea for a nuclear test on February 12, its third, sparking a furious response from Pyongyang. The North has also called annual military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces a "hostile" act.

North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defence assessments by Washington and Seoul. South Korean and U.S. officials believe it is preparing to launch a Musudan missile, whose range of 3,500 km (2,100 miles) or more would put Japan within striking distance and may threaten Guam, home to U.S. military bases.

"INACCURATE"

The debate about North Korea's nuclear ability focuses on whether it has a warhead small enough to mount on a missile and whether it can then ensure that missile re-enters the earth's atmosphere.

North Korea last tested a long-range rocket in December. It launched the rocket into space for the first time but the rocket did not successfully re-enter.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said "it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage" of the DIA report.

The conclusion of the DIA was not shared by the wider U.S. intelligence community, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said in a statement.

The strong consensus inside the U.S. government is that North Korea does not yet have a nuclear device that would fit longer-range missiles that conceivably could hit the U.S. mainland.

Civilian experts have also said there was no evidence North Korea had tested the complex art of miniaturising a nuclear weapon to be placed on a long-range missile, a capability the United States, Russia, China and others achieved decades ago.

Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence analyst now with the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said that while he did not have access to the classified material cited in Congress, what was said publicly about DIA's assessment sounded quite tentative.

"It really says to me that this is a speculative statement," Thielmann said. "Moderate (confidence) is higher than low confidence but it doesn't say they know very much."

Lamborn, the congressman, said the DIA reached the conclusion in a mostly classified March 2013 report. He did not say what range the nuclear-capable North Korean missiles might have.

U.S. spy agencies believe the threats of war from North Korea mainly represent an effort by new leader Kim Jong-un to demonstrate he is in command, Clapper said on Thursday.

New South Korean President Park Geun-hye said late on Thursday she was open to resume dialogue with the North and would continue to offer humanitarian aid.

Her long-standing policy is that the North needs to abandon its nuclear programme before it gets aid.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Daum Kim in SEOUL, Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING, John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI, and Patricia Zengerle, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)


Related Stories:
South Korea casts doubt on North Korea miniaturising nuclear warhead

Pentagon report on North Korea nuclear capabilities stirs worry, doubts

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

New technology speeding progress on bird flu vaccine

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 08:13 PM PDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Even as U.S. officials this week awaited the arrival of a sample of the new bird flu virus from China - typically the first step in making a flu vaccine - government-backed researchers had already begun testing a "seed" strain of the virus made from the genetic code posted on the Internet.

A chicken is seen inside a cage on a truck from mainland China at a border checkpoint in Hong Kong April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A chicken is seen inside a cage on a truck from mainland China at a border checkpoint in Hong Kong April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

This new, faster approach is the result of a collaboration among the U.S. government, vaccine maker Novartis and a unit of the J. Craig Venter Institute, which is using synthetic biology - in which scientists take the genetic code of the virus and use it as a recipe to build the virus from scratch.

It was an idea born in the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, in which production delays and poor-quality seed strain slowed delivery of the vaccine until October, late enough that people were already sick with swine flu.

The new method has shaved two weeks off the vaccine-making process. It will take five to six months to ramp up production, but even weeks could make a difference in the case of a potentially deadly flu pandemic, said Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority or BARDA.

"We'll take it," said Robinson, whose agency handles pandemic preparedness as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "If the virus turns out to be a tough one, that could be very important."

At least 33 people have been infected and 10 have died from the strain of bird flu known as avian influenza A (H7N9) first found in humans last month. So far, the strain does not appear capable of being passed from person to person.

But Chinese researchers, in a report published online on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, warned that the sudden emergence of this strain of flu "may pose a serious human health risk" and said "appropriate counter measures were urgently required."

SOUL SEARCHING

An especially deadly strain of bird flu in 2003 known as H5N1 had already raised the threat of a global pandemic, spurring more than $2 billion in government contracts to shore up U.S. flu vaccine manufacturing capabilities.

After the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, U.S. health agencies gathered to do some soul searching. Representatives from BARDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health looked for ways to expedite the process of making flu vaccines, Robinson said.

These advances would need to apply to all vaccine makers, whether they used the traditional method of growing the virus in live chicken eggs, or the newer methods of growing it in cells or vaccines made from genetically engineered proteins.

Robinson, who formerly headed the vaccines division at Novavax Inc, had seen firsthand the speed at which a vaccine could be made using synthetic biology during the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, when companies and governments rushed to make a vaccine.

So, in 2010, BARDA tapped Novartis, one of its vaccine partners, along with a company owned by Dr. J. Craig Venter, the flamboyant scientist who took part in the race to map the human genome and caused a stir in 2010 when he used synthetic genes to create a custom microbe and bring it life.

TEST DRIVE

As a test drive for the new flu technology, in 2011 the government gave its partners the genetic sequence for a North American strain of H7N9, a similar virus to the one making people sick in China. "It was just a coincidence," Robinson recalls.

In less than two weeks, Novartis and Venter's group were ready to make virus seed. The next year, they sequenced an H5N1 virus and produced a synthetic virus in six days.

Then came a live test. The United States asked its partners to make a real vaccine for a variant of swine flu known as H3N2 that had been infecting children in the U.S. Midwest last year.

Once again, they produced virus seed in less than a week.

So, when Chinese health authorities released the genetic sequence for the H7N9 bird flu on March 30, U.S. health officials decided to try the new technique.

Novartis and Venter's company, Synthetic Genomics Vaccines Inc, went to work and by April 4, they had synthetic DNA ready and had started to grow the virus in cells, long before samples of the actual virus arrived from China on April 11.

Normally, getting a sample would be the starting point for making a seed virus, which would then be grown and tested to ensure it would grow well in chicken eggs or cells.

That involves a certain amount of guesswork, however. The new process of building the virus based on its genetic code allows "almost guaranteed success," said Mike Shaw, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"That is because you're creating a virus that is almost tailor-made," he said.

Shaw said the CDC plans to take a vaccine candidate at least to the stage of human safety trials, a process that will take several months.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Venezuela election to test Chavez's socialist legacy

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 07:01 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - The late Hugo Chavez's self-declared socialist revolution will be put to the test at a presidential election on Sunday that pits his chosen successor against a younger rival promising change in the nation he polarized.

Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (R) holds a painting of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a campaign rally in the state of Vargas April 9, 2013. Venezuelans will hold presidential elections on April 14. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (R) holds a painting of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a campaign rally in the state of Vargas April 9, 2013. Venezuelans will hold presidential elections on April 14. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Most opinion polls give his protege, acting President Nicolas Maduro, a strong lead over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles thanks to Chavez's endorsement and the surge of grief and sympathy over his death from cancer last month.

The candidates closed out official campaigning on Thursday with duelling rallies, both drawing hundreds of thousands of boisterous supporters. Taking a page out of Chavez's playbook, a fiery Maduro marched through the streets of the capital draped in a Venezuelan flag and called on voters to follow "commander Chavez as the spiritual guide of the fatherland."

"I am the son of Chavez," the burly 50-year-old former bus driver shouted to supporters in downtown Caracas. "I am ready to be your president."

Waving posters of the late president, the crowd sang back the campaign slogan, which rhymes in Spanish: "Chavez, I swear to you, I'll vote for Maduro!"

Capriles, an energetic 40-year-old state governor, wrapped up his second presidential campaign in seven months - he lost to an ailing Chavez last October - in the nearby city of Barquisimeto, pledging to end the divisive politics of the late president's 14-year rule and the rampant crime that is the top concern of Venezuelans.

"Those who govern today have never done anything for your security. Sunday we're going to choose between life and death," Capriles roared to the crowd. "If you want a future, you have to vote for change, for a different government."

At stake is control of the world's biggest crude oil reserves, economic aid to a host of left-leaning governments around Latin America, and the legacy of what Chavez liked to call "21st century socialism" - a mix of hard-left politics, heavy government spending on the poor, and growing state control over the economy.

The presidential vote will be the first time that Chavez isn't on the ballot in two decades, but in many ways the election is all about him. Maduro has cast himself as Chavez's "first apostle" and has sought to emulate his former boss's fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail.

At every rally, Maduro has played a video of Chavez giving him his blessing in an emotional last speech to the OPEC nation of 29 million people before he succumbed to a two-year battle with cancer on March 5.

Keenly aware of Chavez's cult-like following among the poor, Capriles has spent much of the campaign denying Maduro's claims that he would get rid of the oil-funded social spending that was the cornerstone of the late president's popularity. He has also sought to court Chavez supporters by promising to raise wages by 40 percent.

If Maduro wins, he will face big challenges from day one as he seeks to control the disparate ruling coalition without his predecessor's dominant personality or the robust state finances that helped Chavez win re-election last year.

Capriles would face an even tougher landscape if he wins. Chavez's rule thoroughly transformed Venezuela, and nearly all of the country's institutions - from ministries and government agencies to the military and state oil giant PDVSA - are packed with die-hard Chavez supporters.

Capriles touched a nerve with scathing attacks on Maduro and others whom he denounced as "skin-deep revolutionaries." He accused them of betraying Chavez's legacy by filling their pockets while paying only lip service to his ideology.

Maduro, meanwhile, has painted his rival as a pampered rich kid who represents a wealthy and venal Venezuelan elite - and their "imperial" financial backers in Washington.

SURREALISM

A descendant of European Jews on his mother's side, Capriles comes from a wealthy family, but has sought to project a man-of-the-people image riding into slums on his motorcycle and nearly always wearing a baseball cap.

Maduro, a former member of a rock band and a union activist, rose to be Chavez's foreign minister and vice president, but has been playing up his modest roots at rallies, frequently calling onto stage fellow workers whom he recognizes.

The campaign has been characterized by personal attacks from both candidates, plus a dose of surrealism from the folksy Maduro. While visiting Chavez's hometown, Maduro said he was visited by the late leader's spirit in the form of a little bird, a claim that was mocked by the opposition as crass populism.

Maduro poked fun at the opposition at his closing rally by perching a bird on his shoulder, a gesture that drew roaring cheers from the crowd, which included Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, who flew in to support Maduro.

In another bizarre turn, Maduro also warned anyone thinking of voting for his rival that they would bring down a centuries-old curse upon themselves, playing on the fertile mix of animist and Christian beliefs in Venezuela's plains and jungles.

In a nation where Chavez's confrontational rhetoric helped fuel deep mistrust between his supporters and the opposition, both political camps have repeatedly accused the other of dirty tricks and fomenting violent plans.

Loyal "Chavistas" often accuse the opposition of plotting a re-run of a brief coup against Chavez a decade ago, while the Capriles camp says the government is shamelessly using state resources to try to ensure Maduro's triumph.

Maduro has accused the opposition of planning to use mercenaries to kill him and sabotage the electricity grid, and also accused the U.S. government of plotting to kill Capriles and then blame it on his administration to sow chaos.

Capriles said those kind of shrill claims are an echo of the worst of Chavez's rule, and only aim to spread distrust and fear. Chavez himself often unveiled supposed assassination plans targeting him, which critics dismissed as cynical efforts to keep voters on a war footing and distract them from daily worries such as violent crime, inflation and corruption.

Capriles also sees the hand of Cuba's Castro brothers - close allies of the late Chavez - in Maduro's campaign.

"You can win the elections in Havana. I'm going to win them here in Venezuela," Capriles said in one of his final speeches.

The challenger is touting a Brazil-style model that blends pro-business policies with strong spending on social welfare projects, and he says Maduro's tenure as acting leader has only added to people's problems with a devaluation and new currency controls.

Capriles says that if he wins he will stop "gifting" Venezuela's oil wealth to other nations, and will cool ties with distant Chavez-era allies such as Syria, Belarus and Iran.

The U.S. government will be watching the vote closely in the hope of better relations after years of tensions with Chavez.

Many Venezuelans say they will stay true to the dying wish of their "commander" and vote for Maduro, whatever they may feel about how he stacks up as successor to the towering Chavez.

"I loved and still love commander Chavez and I defend the revolution. I believe in Nicolas. The commander chose him for a reason," said Aritza Beltran, a 30-year-old teacher in Caracas.

(Additional reporting by Mario Naranjo and Diego Ore; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Kieran Murray, Lisa Shumaker and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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Red FM gets F1's Jean-Eric Vergne to do roti canai

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:41 AM PDT

Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne tries his hand at making a local delicacy while in Kuala Lumpur for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

RED FM is constantly encouraging its listeners to experience it all in the spirit of its new tagline "Living It".

When Formula One driver Jean-Eric Vergne was here recently for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, Red FM announcer Linora invited him to experience a typical Malaysian mamak meal of roti canai and teh tarik.

Linora, who regularly hang outs at mamak stalls around town, even challenged Vergne to prepare his own roti canai.

"I was very excited to find Jean-Eric sporting enough to stand behind the stove and learn how to make this dish," Linora said.

Although most of us consume this on a regular basis, we place little thought on how it's prepared. Creating this dish is an art in itself.

After a few attempts at learning to knead and flip the dough, the F1 Scuderia Toro Rosso driver was ready to serve Linora with the end product.

When asked how the roti canai tasted, Linora said: "It wasn't bad. It wasn't burnt and it was a bit crunchier than usual, just the way I like it! I wouldn't have minded another roti canai prepared by him."

Vergne was pleased with his effort, saying: "I had a lot of fun learning to create this dish. I am used to the heat of an F1 car but this is a different type of heat and I'm glad I had the chance to live it."

Vergne revealed he usually doesn't eat anything oily during racing season due to the demands of his job. However, he made an exception during this outing.

Experience something new as you keep living it up with Red FM.

Red fm is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6FM, Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM.

Spreading joy at Zon Ceria Suria FM

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:43 AM PDT

DOLLY Parton was right when she sang, "Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living; barely getting by, it's all taking but no giving," in her 1980 country hit 9 To 5.

Life can get dull and dreary at times, as work or school becomes a humdrum routine and our contributions or achievements go unnoticed.

Well, Suria FM is about to change all that. The popular Bahasa Malaysia radio station announced in a press statement that its latest initiative, Zon Ceria Suria FM, is aimed at "appreciating its loyal listeners and winning the hearts of prospective listeners."

Last week, folks from the radio station, including DJs Halim Othman, Adibah Noor and Linda Onn, paid a visit to Menara Star in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to spread cheer among fellow colleagues. The Suria FM team also visited members of the public at selected eateries around Klang Valley.

From handing out goody bags to playing games and even footing your lunch bill (yay!), there's no telling what the Suria FM team will do to spice up your day once they've declared the area "Zon Ceria". n Find out which locations the Suria Wheels will be heading to by tuning in to Suria FM (105.3FM around the Klang Valley) or you can listen online at suriafm.com.my. Suria FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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Nadal, Federer braced for Djokovic, Murray bids

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 06:38 PM PDT

PARIS: It's 10 years since the rankings didn't feature either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer in the top two, but current leading men, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, still face a test of claycourt nerve.

On Sunday, Nadal begins his bid for a ninth successive Monte Carlo Masters title.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who was seven months out of action with a knee injury, has already hammered home his claycourt dominance in 2013 with comeback titles at Sao Paulo and Acapulco.

The seven-time French Open champion romped through the Latin American claycourt swing with a 12-1 record.

His clay record for the last 12 months reads 35-2, although his fitness faces another gruelling challenge on European clay this year.

Nadal, currently the world number five, has a mountain of points to defend after he clinched Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and the French Open in 2012.

His only blip last year was a last-16 defeat to compatriot Fernando Verdasco in Madrid on the hated blue clay which has since been banned.

Nadal is desperate to return to clay on which has won 38 of his 53 career titles.

"I missed the feeling of going onto a big stadium with all the people, all this atmosphere that makes you feel something different," said Nadal who added the Indian Wells Masters hardcourt title to his CV in March.

"And the feeling of victory, the feeling of competition, this adrenaline in life."

Federer, with his 32nd birthday fast approaching, is sitting out Monte Carlo, but his claycourt record - 10 titles on the surface - is 15-2 over the past 12 months.

That puts him second only to Nadal, having captured the Madrid crown in 2012 before succumbing to Djokovic in the semi-finals in Rome and Roland Garros.

World number one Djokovic, the runner-up to Nadal at Monte Carlo in 2009 and 2012, goes into the tournament confident that a right ankle injury sustained on Davis Cup duty won't limit his chances.

"After seeing the results of all the tests we did, I am really positive and strong," Djokovic wrote on his Facebook page. "I'm doing the best I can with my team to recover fast and be ready for the upcoming tournaments."

Djokovic's defeat to Nadal in the French Open final last year ended his hopes of completing a career Grand Slam.

The Serb failed to lift a claycourt title in 2012 having swept Rome, Madrid and Belgrade 12 months earlier.

Murray remains an enigma on clay.

The US Open and Olympic champion has collected 26 career titles but has never reached a claycourt final, let alone lift a trophy.

Last year, the Scot managed just quarter-final runs at the French Open, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

"My consistency has been better over the last few months. The rankings obviously reflect that," said Murray.

"So I will try and keep working hard during the clay and hopefully I can go higher." - AFP

Chong Wei hopes birth of first son will bring renewed strength

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 04:42 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei hopes to draw inspiration from the birth of his first-born to stay ahead of a new generation of players.

Today will be a momentous day for the 30-year-old Chong Wei as his wife Wong Mew Choo is scheduled to give birth to their first child – a baby boy – via Caesarean section. And the couple has already decided to name the baby Kingston.

Although thrilled with the idea of being a father, Chong Wei admitted that the last few weeks had been quite stressful for him – having to leave Mew Choo alone several times while he went looking for more titles for Malaysia in international tournaments.

And it didn't help matters when he fell sick for almost 10 days after losing to China's Chen Long in the final of the All-England in Birmingham in March.

He still went on to compete in the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold last week, where he lost to Tian Houwei, another of China's younger players, in the semi-finals.

Chong Wei, the Malaysian Open and Korean Open champion, has vowed to bounce back stronger after the birth of his son.

"It was not easy for me to leave Mew Choo alone – especially at this stage of her pregnancy. She was understanding and told me to stay focused on my tournaments ... but I kept thinking about her and our unborn child," said Chong Wei.

"Many felt that I should not have gone for the Australian Open ... some even questioned my loss to the young Chinese player.

"As a player, there are a lot of planning required for the year. I made a decision to go for the Australian Open, so I have to accept the defeat. But rest assured that I'm focused on one single mission – winning the World Championships in Guangzhou (in August).

"It hasn't been easy trying to maintain the my world No. 1 ranking for the last four years ... I've had to keep fending off all types of players – old and new – who are determined to beat me. I have to watch my back in every round of every tournament because everyone is after my scalp.

"It's tough and challenging. I have to keep training hard to maintain my fitness level and continue to motivate myself. This is my job and I'm glad that Mew Choo is very understanding."

In fact, Mew Choo has even encouraged Chong Wei not to back out from his next two back-to-back assignments – the India Open Super Series and Malay-sian Open Grand Prix Gold.

The India Open is in New Delhi from April 23-28 while the Malaysian Open GP will be at the Putra Stadium from April 30-May 4.

"I was the finalist at the India Open last year (losing to Shon Wan-ho of South Korea) and won the home title. I want to maintain that to ensure that my ranking does not drop. It will also put me on the right track ahead of the World Championships.

"For now, I'm just looking forward to the arrival of my son."

Change of plans for Malaysian Open due to elections

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 04:42 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The duration of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament will be shortened and the venue shifted from Pahang to Kuala Lumpur because it clashes with the general election.

The Malaysian GP Gold, which will see the participation of local "king" and defending champion Lee Chong Wei and several top players from Indonesia, Thailand and India, is from April 30-May 5. The polling day is May 5.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai said yesterday they had written to the Badminton World Federation (BWF) about their "sticky" situation.

He said they had given BWF a few options and were waiting for the green light. Once confirmed, BAM will inform all the participating countries.

"The Sukpa Indoor Stadium in Pahang will be used for the elections and we have no choice but to shift the venue. We plan to host it at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil," said Chin Chai.

"We can't postpone the tournament to another week but we can shorten it by a day. If approved, the final of our GP Gold will be on Saturday (May 4).

"We can start the first round on Tuesday, the day we usually hold the qualifying round matches. Some countries have booked their flights ... but they'll have to make the necessary adjustments."

Chong Wei is the top seed for the tournament. The other seeded players include Indonesians Sony Dwi Kuncoro (2nd), Tommy Sugiarto (6th) and Simon Santoso (7th); Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh (3rd); Malaysians Liew Daren (4th) and Chong Wei Feng (5th).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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CIMB Research maintains CPO price outlook at RM2,530 for 2013

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 07:00 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Equities Research is maintaining its crude palm oil (CPO) price forecasts of RM2,530 for 2013 and RM2,700 for 2014 and also its Neutral rating for regional planters.

The research house said on Friday the emergence of biodiesel demand has created a floor price for CPO.

"There is potential upside of about US$250 per tonne (up 30%) for the CPO price, should it revert to its historical average premium over crude oil," it said.

CIMB Research said it was encouraged by the evidence presented by Dr James Fry, chairman of LMC International at Thursday's PAC seminar that the emergence of biodiesel demand has created a floor price for CPO.

Fry made six observations on the roller-coaster CPO price market in 2012.

* The price band linking palm oil with crude oil price, had survived its toughest test;

* The export tax for biodiesel in Indonesia and freight costs had reinforced the price band's floor price;

* Biodiesel (palm methyl ester) can be a very competitive fuel in Indonesia if processors passed on advantages they enjoyed via cheap feedstock costs;

* government policies created uncertainties in forecasting demand;

* palm kernel oil also traded within a price band with crude oil;

* and Indonesian seed sales statistics suggested that more palm oil estates were planted over the past few years than earlier thought.

"We agree with Dr Fry's assessment that the emergence of biodiesel demand has provided a new source of demand for palm oil and this helps establish a floor price for CPO during periods of excess supplies.

"A positive surprise for us are indications that Indonesian biodiesel plants are running at full capacities to cater to local and US biodiesel markets. But this is offset by his view of larger new palm oil plantations in Indonesia against the official figure which will translate to higher palm oil supplies from Indonesia in the coming years," said CIMB Research.

 

February factory output down on lower activities

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 06:45 PM PDT

Friday April 12, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Factory output as measured by the industrial production index (IPI) declined 4.5% year-on-year in February on decreased manufacturing, mining and electricity activities as tracked by the index's component indices.

According to data released by the Statistics Department, the manufacturing index fell 5.2%, mining dropped 3% and electricity slid 3%.

However, the IPI for January was revised to a positive 5.2% growth from 4.6%. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the February IPI decreased 1.2% month-on-month attributed to the reduction in all the component indices.

Citigroup Inc economist Kit Wei Zheng said in a report that the decline, although below the consensus 2.5% drop, was close to the expectations of a 5.9% decrease.

"Our estimates suggest the manufacturing sequential decline was led by food, beverages and tobacco and transport equipment and other manufactures, even as electrical and electronics declined year on year (February: -6.5%, January: 9.0%) terms," he said.

 

Malaysia-Market factors to watch on April 12 (Friday)

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 06:43 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Following is a list of events in Malaysia as well as news company-related and market news which could have an influence on the Malaysian market.

Stocks rise on Japan's liquidity surge, oil slips

SE Asia Stocks-Firmer; Malaysia hits new peak on blue-chips, foreign buying

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MALAYSIA, IN TIMES LOCAL FOLLOWED BY GMT:

* Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Douglas Uggah Embas attends the handover ceremony of conservation centre project site and giant panda exhibition at Zoo Negara, Hulu Kelang at 9.30 am (0130 GMT).

* Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak launches 'Suara Generasiku' at Sri Putra Hall, National Sports Complex, Bukit Jalil at 3.30 pm (0730 GMT).

MARKET NEWS

> Nikkei edges down after touching new 5-year high; Fast Retailing falls

> Wall St gains for 4th day, but weak tech hurts Nasdaq

> U.S. bond prices rise, though Japanese bids elusive

> USD bulls frustrated by 100 yen barrier; NZD shines

> Gold rebounds from 1-week low as dollar slips

> Oil settles lower as demand view dims, inventory rises

> Palm oil slips to 1-week low on bearish USDA data MALAYSIA IN THE NEWS:

> Malaysia's pension fund accepts revised offer for stake in MISC

> PREVIEW-India's March palm oil imports fall as traders draw on stocks

> Global index shakeup looms as China's "frontier" market opens

> POLL-Bullish yuan bets at 20-mth high; most bearish on won in a year

> Fitch rates CIMB Niaga Auto Finance's MTN issuance at 'AA + (IDN). - Reuters

MARKETS-VEGOILS/ 12/04/13(Friday)

KUALA LUMPUR: The following factors are likely to influence Malaysian palm oil futures and other vegetable oil markets. FUNDAMENTALS

* Malaysian palm oil futures fell to the lowest in more than a week on Thursday, tracking weaker soy markets after a key U.S. industry report showed higher-than-expected global soybean stockpiles.

* Front-month Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures rose on Thursday due to strong nearby demand for physical supplies from U.S. crushers, traders said. * Oil prices settled lower on Thursday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) trimmed its forecast for oil demand growth this year, the third of the world's top forecasters to do so at a time of growing supplies. MARKET NEWS

* World equity markets rallied for a fourth day on Thursday, lifted by a surprise drop in Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week, while crude fell on a cut in global demand forecasts as U.S. oil supplies hit a two-decade high.

* Commodities came in mixed on Thursday, even within sectors, as markets like gold and copper were lifted by a weaker dollar and natural gas by falling inventories, while easing demand forecasts pressured crude oil prices. RELATED NEWS

> Drought risk alive this year in U.S. crop belt -meteorologist

> PREVIEW-India's March palm oil imports fall as traders draw on stocks

DATA/EVENTS

> Cargo surveyors to issue April 1-15 export data on Monday. Key commodity markets at 0017 GMT - Reuters

DIARY - Malaysia 12/04/13(Friday)

ALL TIMES ARE PROVISIONAL AND IN LOCAL TIME FOLLOWED BY GMT IN BRACKETS

FRIDAY, APR 12

* HULU KELANG - Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas attends the handover ceremony of conservation centre project site and giant panda exhibition at Zoo Negara, Hulu Kelang at 0930am (0130).

* RAWANG, SELANGOR - Mah Sing Group Bhd organises M Residence 2@Rawang's Media Day at M Residence@Rawang Sales Gallery, Jalan Bandar tasik Puteri, Rawang at 0930am (0130).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Ken Holdings Bhd golds AGM at KL Golf & Country Club, Jalan 1.70D, off Jalan Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur at 1000am (0200).

* PETALING JAYA - Sunway Integrated Properties Sdn Bhd organises The Sunway Property Show 2013 at Sunway Pyramid, Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya at 1000am (0200). * KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Najib Razak launches 'Suara Generasiku' at Sri Putra Hall, National Sports Complex, Bukit Jalil at 1530pm (0730). * SHAH ALAM - Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim opens the Islamic Artistic Expression Night Programme at Universiti Teknology Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam at 2000pm (1200).

SATURDAY, APR 13

BANGI, SELANGOR - Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) organises Uniten Conference 2013: Generating Leadership Qualities Through General Studies at College of Information Technology, Uniten, Bandar Baru Bangi at 0800am (0000).

MONDAY, APR 15

PETALING JAYA - Interview Motorola Solutions country president Mohd Rauf Nasir at Motorola Solutions, Menara Luxor, Off Pesiaran Tropicana, Petaling Jaya at 1000am (0200).

KUALA LUMPUR - Selangor Properties Bhd holds AGM at HELP University College, Damansara, Kuala Lumpur at 1100am (0300).

TUESDAY, APR 16 * KUALA LUMPUR - 2nd Hazards Asia Pacific Symposium organised by the Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 0800am (0000). * KUCHING, SARAWAK - Yung Kong Galvanising Industries Bhd holds EGM at Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching at 1100am (0300).

WEDNESDAY, APR 17

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of March 2013 Consumer Price Index. * KUALA LUMPUR - Pantai Hospital Cheras free diabetic counselling at Diabetic Counselling Room, Pantai Hospital Cheras at 0830am (0030).

KUALA LUMPUR - Petronas Dagangan Bhd holds AGM at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kusls Lumpur at 1000am (0200).

SHAH ALAM - Paramount Corp Bhd holds EGM at The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Saujana Resort , Shah Alam at 1030am (0230).

SHAH ALAM - Metronic Global Bhd holds EGM at No. 2, Jalan Astaka U8/83, Section U8, Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam at 1100am (0300).

THURSDAY, APR 18 * KUALA LUMPUR - EU-Malaysia Trade and Investment Forum 2013 at Istana Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 1030am (0230).

FRIDAY, APR 19 * KUALA LUMPUR - Cycle & Carriage Bintang Bhd holds AGM at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 0900am (0100).

KLANG, SELANGOR - WCT Bhd court convened meeting for warrants holders pursuant to Section 176(1) of the Companies Act 1965 at Premiere Hotel, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 1/KS6, Jalan Langat, Klang at 1100am (0300).

MONDAY, APR 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 April 2013.

KUALA LUMPUR - Affin Holdings Bhd holds AGM at The Royale Chulan Hotel, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur at 1000am (0200).

TUESDAY, APR 23

KUALA LUMPUR - Tradewinds Corp Bhd holds EGM at Istana Hotel, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur at 0930am (0130).

PETALING JAYA - Media Prima Bhd holds AGM at The Royale Bintang Damansara, Petalong Jaya at 1000sm (0200).

TUESDAY, APR 30

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of March 2013 Money Supply data, and Detailed Disclosure International Reserves as at end March 2013.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 1

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Labour Day.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 8

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 30 April 2013 and March 2013 External Trade data.

THURSDAY, MAY 9

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of BNM Monetary Policy Statement, March 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and March 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 15

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of 1st Quarter 2013 GDP.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 May 2013 and April 2013 Consumer Price Index.

FRIDAY, MAY 24

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Wesak Day.

FRIDAY, MAY 31

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of April 2013 Money Supply data and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end April 2013.

SATURDAY, JUN 1

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - The Yang di-

Pertuan Agong's Birthday.

WEDNESDAY, JUN 5

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of April 2013 External Trade data.

FRIDAY, JUN 7

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 31 May 2013.

TUESDAY, JUN 11

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of April 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and April 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

WEDNESDAY, JUN 19

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of May 2013 Consumer Price Index.

FRIDAY, JUN 21

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 14 June 2013.

FRIDAY, JUN 28

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of May 2013 Money Supply data, and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end May 2013.

THURSDAY, JUL 4

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of May 2013 External Trade data.

FRIDAY, JUL 5

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 28 June 2013.

THURSDAY, JUL 11

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of BNM Monetary Policy Statement, May 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and May 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

WEDNESDAY JUL 17

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of June 2013 Consumer Price Index.

MONDAY, JUL 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 July 2013.

WEDNESDAY, JUL 31

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of June 2013 Money Supply data, and release of Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end June 2013.

MONDAY, AUG 5

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of June 2013 External Trade data.

WEDNESDAY, AUG 7

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 31 July 2013, June 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and June 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

THURSDAY-FRIDAY, AUG 8-9

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Hari Raya Puasa

(Eid-Fitr).

WEDNESDAY, AUG 21

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of 2nd Quarter 2013 GDP and July 2013 Consumer Price Index.

THURSDAY, AUG 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 August 2013.

FRIDAY, AUG 30

KUALA LUMPUR - Release July 2013 Money Supply data and release of Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end July 2013.

SATURDAY, AUG 31

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - National Day.

THURSDAY, SEP 5

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of BNM Monetary Policy Statement.

FRIDAY, SEP 6

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 30 August 2013, and July 2013 External Trade data.

WEDNESDAY, SEP 11

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of July 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and July 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

MONDAY, SEP 16

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Malaysia Day.

WEDNESDAY, SEP 18

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of August 2013 Consumer Price Index.

MONDAY, SEP 23

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 13 September 2013.

MONDAY, SEP 30

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of August 2013 Money Supply data and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end August 2013.

FRIDAY, OCT 4

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of August 2013 External Trade data.

MONDAY, OCT 7

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 30 September 2013.

THURSDAY, OCT 10

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of August 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and August 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

TUESDAY, OCT 15

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Hari Raya Haji

(Eid-Adha).

TUESDAY, OCT 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 14 October 2013.

WEDNESDAY, OCT 23

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of September 2013 Consumer Price Index

THURSDAY, OCT 31

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of September 2013 Money Supply data, and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end September 2013.

SATURDAY, NOV 2

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Deepavali.

TUESDAY, NOV 5

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Moslem New Year.

THURSDAY, NOV 7

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of BNM Monetary Policy Statement.

FRIDAY, NOV 8

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of September 2013 External Trade data.

MONDAY, NOV 11

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 31 October 2013, September 2013 Index Industrial Production (IPI) and September 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

FRIDAY, NOV 15

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of 3rd Quarter 2013 GDP.

WEDNESDAY, NOV 20

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of October 2013 Consumer Price Index.

FRIDAY, NOV 22

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 November 2013.

FRIDAY, NOV 29

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of October 2013 Money Supply data and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end October 2013.

FRIDAY, DEC 6

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 29 November 2013, and October 2013 External Trade data.

WEDNESDAY, DEC 11

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of October 2013 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and October 2013 Manufacturing Sales.

WEDNESDAY, DEC 18

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of November 2013 Consumer Price Index.

FRIDAY, DEC 20

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 13 December 2013.

WEDNESDAY, DEC 25

KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Christmas Day.

TUESDAY, DEC 31

KUALA LUMPUR - Release of November 2013 Money Supply data and Detailed Disclosure of International Reserves as at end November 2013

NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event. - Reuters

 

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'Django Unchained' yanked from China's cinemas for 'technical reasons'

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 01:10 AM PDT

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Chinese debut of Quentin Taratino's Oscar-winning film Django Unchained, a violent Western slave revenge tale, was suddenly cancelled on Thursday for "technical reasons," movie theatres said.

China is now the largest international market for Hollywood and the opening of the film had been widely anticipated because of reports it would only have minor cuts from government censors, despite Tarantino's reputation for violence.

Some microbloggers said the film had begun to roll when it was stopped and they were told to leave cinemas.

"We got the notice from our headquarters around 10am this morning but it was too late to cancel two viewings," said an official at one of several Shanghai theatres contacted.

"We were only told that it was due to some technology problems and were told to cancel it. They didn't tell us when the film would be shown again."

Domestic media quoted industry insiders as saying the cancellation was probably due to some nudity which may not have been edited out of the film.

The Chinese government censors all movies before they can be released. Scenes that contain nudity, politically sensitive issues, as well as extreme levels of violence, must be edited out before the film receives a go-ahead from the authorities.

Officials at Huaxia Film Distribution Co Ltd and the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), which is responsible for movie censorship, could not be reached for comment.

"After watching it for about a minute, it stopped!" said microblogger Xue Yi Dao. "Staff then came in and said SARFT... had called to say it had to be delayed!! Can someone tell me what's happening!!"

The film stars Jamie Foxx as a slave turned bounty hunter who wreaks revenge on slave plantation owners as he tries to rescue his wife. It features Tarantino's trademark style of extensive graphic and bloody violence, along with dark humour.

Microbloggers speculated that a scene in which Foxx is strung from the rafters covered only by a thin cloth may have caught the attention of the authorities.

In 2004, the debut of a Chinese movie, Dahongmidian, was also suddenly cancelled on the day it was supposed to open because it contained "erotic" scenes which "made improper propaganda without approval," according to local media reports.

Filmmakers are eagerly turning their eye to the vast Chinese market, where several new screens are being built every day, particularly after China eased its quota rules on U.S. movies last year.

It did not lift its annual quota of 20 foreign films, but essentially expanded it, permitting 14 premium format films such as IMAX or 3D on top of the original 20.

The Chinese box office for U.S. films grew by 36 percent in 2012, making the country the largest international market and surpassing Japan, according to the Motion Picture Association of America's MPAA's annual Theatrical Market Statistics report in late March.

Work begins on Divergent

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 11:54 PM PDT

Lionsgate this week announced that principal photography has begun in Chicago on the highly anticipated feature film adaptation of Divergent, starring Golden Globe nominated Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Academy Award winner Kate Winslet.

The studio also announced that Ray Stevenson and Mekhi Phifer will join a stellar young cast including Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoƫ Kravitz and Ben Lloyd-Hughes. The futuristic action adventure, based on author Veronica Roth's New York Times best seller, will be directed by Neil Burger from a script by Vanessa Taylor.

The original draft of the script was written by Evan Daugherty. Summit will release the film theatrically in North America in The Hunger Games slot in March 2014.

Divergent is a thrilling adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities, Tris Prior is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late.

The extremely popular young adult novel Divergent was written by first time author Veronica Roth and has topped the New York Times Best Sellers list ever since being published in May of 2011.

The book was written by Roth while she was earning her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. She followed her first novel with the book Insurgent, which has also made its way to the No. 1 position on specific New York Times Best Sellers lists.

To date, book sales are now over 3 million copies for both novels combined, and both titles are HarperCollins most successful e-books ever in regards to sales. The studio acquired the film rights to the novel in early 2011 several months before the book Divergent was published.

Matt Damon faces a bleak future in 'Elysium'

Posted: 10 Apr 2013 09:18 PM PDT

The first trailer for Neill Blomkamp's new eqgerly awaited sci-fi movie has been released.

The director was responsible for the 1999 movie District 9.

The trailer shows Matt Damon as an inhabitant of Earth in 2154. The planet has been ravaged by poverty and pollution.

The exoskeleton-clad character will emerge as the leader of a rebellion against Elysium, a neighbouring land of plenty with no illness or poverty.

Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley will play two Elysium envoys sent to maintain the divide between the two spheres.

Elysium will be released on 9 August in North America and 22 August in Malaysia.

(Relaxnews)

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Blog releases pictures showing man resembling politician in compromising position

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 08:57 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A blogger on Thursday night released several pictures taken from a video showing a man resembling a senior Opposition politician in a compromising position with a woman in what looked like a hotel room.

Blog MIK ran at least seven pictures with at least one showing the man having sex with the woman on the bed.

Other pictures showed the woman, clad in a towel, sitting on the edge of the bed apparently staring at the camera. Another showed her undressing in front of the man.

Several blogs have picked up the story, releasing the pictures on their sites.

GE13: Sabah DAP vice-chairman Mujie joins Upko

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 08:05 AM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: A senior member of Sabah DAP has resigned to join Barisan Nasional's Upko.

Vice-chairman Edward Ewol Mujie's decision to leave the national opposition party will strike a severe blow to DAP which has been trying to make inroads into the Kadazandusun and Murut communities in the state.

Mujie, who handed over his membership application form to Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok at Puru Lounge in Kampung Putaton here, is the second DAP leader to resign in a week.

Last week, Kepayan DAP chief Stephen Jimbangan together with 128 of his supporters joined Upko.

Mujie said he he was attracted to the on-going efforts by Upko, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to unite the Kadazandusun and Murut communities through their "Gelombang Tataba" (Unity Wave) programme.

He said he also admired Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's courage in introducing positive transformation in the country, including replacing the Internal Security Act (ISA), recognising Malaysia Day and his firm handling of the Sulu intrusion in Lahad Datu.

"The Prime Minister also removed the quota for Christians to visit the Holy Land.

"Therefore, it is only fair for all the rakyat in Sabah to give their undivided support to Najib to achieve the required mandate so that he could effectively implement his sincere agenda in developing the country for the benefit of the rakyat," he added.

Mujie, who lost the Sepanggar seat in 2008 on a DAP ticket, said his decision to quit DAP had nothing to do with the possibility of not being picked as a candidate in the May 5 polls.

"I started making the move after reading and hearing about "Gelombang Tataba."

"I made up my mind voluntarily, no one coerced me into this decision because I look at this positively, to unite the KDM community," said Mujie, a DAP member since 2007.

"I thank God for making me realise that the unity of the indigenous people is the most sensible thing to do now that the Kadazandusun and Murut unity is in disarray," he added.

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

GE13: Police bust syndicate taking bets on polls, five nabbed

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 07:29 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have busted a syndicate in Bentong, Pahang involved in taking bets for the coming polls.

Secret Societies, Illegal Gambling and Anti-Vice Division principal assistant director Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan said police raided a shoplot on Wednesday where bets were being taken and arrested a man and a woman, suspected to be the bookies, and three punters.

Police also seized RM619, handphones and betting slips in the raid.

The suspects are aged in the 40s and 50s.

"We do not dismiss the syndicate was revived to take bets for nomination day (April 20)," he told Bernama at his office here on Thursday.

He added that police have formed special teams in all districts to combat such syndicates and were also working with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to stamp out illegal bookmaking on the polls using the Internet. - Bernama

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