Sabtu, 20 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China earthquake toll rises to 164, injuries at 6,700

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 07:17 PM PDT

YA'AN, China (Reuters) - Rescuers poured into a remote corner of southwestern China on Sunday as the death toll from the country's worst earthquake in three years climbed to 164 with more than 6,700 injured, state media said.

China's Premier Li Keqiang (C) visits after a strong earthquake hits Lushan county, Ya'an, Sichuan province, April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

China's Premier Li Keqiang (C) visits after a strong earthquake hits Lushan county, Ya'an, Sichuan province, April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The 6.6 magnitude quake struck in Lushan county, near the city of Ya'an in the southwestern province of Sichuan, at a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles), close to where a devastating 7.9 temblor hit in May 2008 killing some 70,000.

Most of the deaths were concentrated in Lushan, a short drive up the valley from Ya'an, but rescuers' access was hampered by the narrowness of the road and landslides.

"The Lushan county centre is getting back to normal, but the need is still considerable in terms of shelter and materials," said Kevin Xia of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"Supplies have had difficulty getting into the region because of the traffic jams. Most of our supplies are still on the way," Xia said.

Pictures on state television showed toppled buildings and people in bloodied bandages being treated in tents outside the Lushan hospital. Water and electricity in the area were cut off by the quake.

Premier Li Keqiang flew into the disaster zone by helicopter to voice support for the rescue operation.

Chen Yong, the vice director of the Ya'an city government earthquake response office, told reporters that the death toll was unlikely to rise by much more.

"We understand the situation in most areas. Most of the casualties have been reported. In some remote mountain areas, it is possible that we don't fully understand the situation," he said.


But no schools had collapsed, unlike in 2008 when many schools crumpled causing huge public anger, prompting a nationwide campaign of re-building.

"Our schools are the safest and sturdiest buildings," Chen said. "The Chinese government has put a lot of money into building schools and hospitals. I can guarantee that no schools collapsed."

Xinhua said 6,000 troops were in the area to help with rescue efforts.

Rescuers in Lushan had pulled 91 survivors out of rubble, Xinhua said. In villages closest to the epicentre, almost all low-rise buildings had collapsed, footage on state television showed.

The China Meteorological Association warned of the possibility of landslides in Lushan county, with more than 1,000 aftershocks registered.

Ya'an is a city of 1.5 million people and is considered one of the birthplaces of Chinese tea culture. It is also the home to one of China's main centres for protecting the giant panda.

Sichuan is one of the four major natural gas-producing provinces in China, and its output accounts for about 14 percent of the nation's total.

Sinopec Group, Asia's largest oil refiner, said its huge Puguang gas field was unaffected.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially put the magnitude at 7, but later revised it down.

In 2010, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed 2,700 people in Yushu, a largely Tibetan region in northwest China.

(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Merkel party loses support after female hiring quota dispute - poll

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 04:49 PM PDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - Support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives has fallen by 2 percentage points to 39 percent after a dispute over quotas requiring companies to hire more women executives, an opinion poll published on Sunday showed.

Rebel members of Merkel's centre-right coalition, including Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen, threatened to break ranks and vote with opposition parties that wanted to introduce a female quota from 2018, convinced that voluntary pledges to appoint more women have proven inadequate.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media during a visit at a retirement home in Melle, April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Martin Meissner/Pool

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media during a visit at a retirement home in Melle, April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Martin Meissner/Pool

Merkel averted the potentially embarrassing defeat in parliament when the rebels accepted a compromise plan obliging big firms to raise the proportion of women on supervisory boards to 30 percent in 2020.

Emnid said the incident was likely the reason for the conservatives becoming less popular with voters.

The weekly Emnid poll for German newspaper Bild am Sonntag showed the Free Democrats (FDP), the junior coalition partner in Merkel's centre-right government, has 5 percent support, unchanged from last week and enough for the liberal, pro-business party to enter parliament after the next election.

That would give the ruling government 44 percent support, close to the 47 to 48 percent usually needed for a parliamentary majority in a system where parties with less than 5 percent do not get any seats.

The poll showed the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) remained unchanged at 26 percent support, while the Greens held steady at 14 percent, giving those parties 40 percent combined - not enough to beat the ruling government.

The socialist Die Linke party was also unchanged at 8 percent. The maverick Pirates gained one point to 4 percent.

The poll of 2,410 people was conducted between April 11 and 17.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Residents return for look at Texas homes after deadly blast

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 04:19 PM PDT

WEST, Texas (Reuters) - Officials began allowing some residents to return to their homes on Saturday for their first look at the damage from a deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer plant.

Residents attend a town-hall meeting three-days after a fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, near Waco, Texas April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Residents attend a town-hall meeting three-days after a fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, near Waco, Texas April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Authorities set strict rules for those being allowed back inside the evacuated area. Only residents of certain streets were permitted to retrieve their belongings, and a 7 p.m. CDT curfew was set for those who chose to stay overnight.

"If they want to stay, it's at their own risk," said Steve Vanek, a West City Council member, who warned of broken nails and glass as potential hazards and a limited access to water and electricity.

The announcement came on a day when officials released few new details about the explosion on Wednesday night that flattened sections of this central Texas town, known locally for its Czech heritage and kolache pastries.

The fire and ensuing blast at West Fertilizer Co, a privately owned retail facility, gutted a 50-unit apartment complex, demolished about 50 houses and battered a nursing home and several schools. Dozens more homes were reported to have been damaged.

Authorities said the death toll remained at 14 in a town of some 2,700 people, with 200 people injured.

Most of the confirmed dead were emergency personnel who responded to the fire and likely were killed by the blast, which was so powerful it registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake.

Crews were working to restore running water to downtown businesses, and tractor trailers hauled portable classrooms into town for displaced students.

Officials said they were working hard to restore normality, but cautioned the process would take time.

"This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint," West Mayor Tommy Muska told several hundred people gathered for a town hall meeting.

"We need to prepare right now for the long haul," said Muska, whose home was made uninhabitable by the blast.


Authorities have said there was no indication of foul play, although the investigation continues.

Donald Adair, a lifelong resident of West and owner of the plant's parent company, Adair Grain Inc, issued a statement on Friday saying he was heartbroken about the losses suffered by so many families in the community.

He added his company was "working closely with investigative agencies" and pledged "to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community."

The plant was last inspected for safety in 2011, according to a Risk Management Plan filed with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The company, which has fewer than 10 employees, had provided no contingency plan to the EPA for a major explosion or fire at the site. It told the EPA in 2011 that a typical emergency scenario at the facility that holds anhydrous ammonia could result in a small release in gas form.

The EPA fined the company $2,300 in 2006 for failing to implement a risk management plan.

Last year, the fertilizer plant stored 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owned the West plant did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as required, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb-making - unaware of any danger there.


For the farmers who grow corn, wheat, milo and cotton in the area, the fertilizer plant was critical to their operations. Not only did the plant mix fertilizer for farmers and deliver it if needed, but it had a steady business in sprayers and other equipment for applying the chemicals.

Talk of fines and safety violations at the plant have raised the ire of some who did business there and who do not know now whether to be angry, sad, or both.

"I know a lot of people are putting the blame on it," Danny Mynar, who farms about 2,000 acres (810 hectares) outside West, said of the plant. "But it served a lot of ranchers and farmers."

Mynar's cousin is married to one of the plant operators who is now assumed to be dead. The employee, Cody Dragoo, mixed the ammonium nitrate at the plant, said Mynar.

When the fire started, Dragoo, a volunteer firefighter, rushed to try to put it out. He has not been seen since, said Mynar.

"He was my best friend," Mynar said. "It is just a sad deal."

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Fly Guy joins The Red Breakfast WTF duo JJ and Lil' Kev

Posted: 21 Apr 2013 03:24 AM PDT

More fun and chaos on The Red Breakfast WTF as Fly Guy reunites with Lil' Kev and JJ.

GUESS who's coming back on air? It is none other than Fly Guy! Sufian Mokthar, or better known as Fly Guy to radio listeners nationwide, will join The Red Breakfast WTF duo JJ and Lil' Kev starting tomorrow morning.

This will be the first time Lil' Kev and Fly Guy reunite on air since they left their popular breakfast show back in 2002. Talk about a reunion!

Fly Guy needs little introduction; he and Lil' Kev were the original Morning Crew of a popular radio station from 1997 to 2002. The duo is credited for redefining Breakfast radio in Malaysia.

Fly Guy was last heard on air earlier this year when he called in to Red FM to congratulate JJ and Lil' Kev on the launch of their brand-new show,. He has been listening to the show in London where he is currently based with his family.

Although only two months old, The Red Breakfast WTF has already created quite a buzz amongst Malaysians with their brand of wacky yet relatable content. The combination of JJ's humour and Lil' Kev's charm have won fans over and more Malaysian are choosing to wake up to these guys.

Upon hearing the possibility of joining JJ and Lil' Kev on the show, Fly Guy immediately booked his ticket back to Malaysia. He doesn't want to miss out on the fun!

Lil' Kev is thrilled with the prospect of working with his former partner. "Never in a million years did I imagine I would be back on air with Fly. I mean, this is like deja vu for me. I'm so excited, I cant wait for Monday," he said.

Sharing the same sentiment, JJ added: "Having the opportunity to work with not one but both the guys who inspired me to join radio is dream come true for me. I just hope they don't deduct my salary."

> Red FM is a subsidiary of Star Radio Group.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Sweet victory Syafiq and Zatil emerge national champs

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 06:27 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It was sweet victory for Muhd Syafiq Ridhwan and Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani as both were crowned Masters Open champions after a spirited display in the National Bowling Championships at the Pyramid Mega Lanes yesterday.

The men's Masters saw a repeat of the 2009 final with Syafiq, the reigning World Cup champion, again getting the better of national team-mate Zulmazran Zulkifli 266-242 and 263-196 in the step-ladder final.

In 2009, Syafiq was stretched to three games (228-201, 185-225, 222-213) by Zulmazran before landing his first national title.

It was a big blow to Zulmazran, the 2001 champion, as he had qualified for the three-man step-ladder playoffs in first place with a 10-game total of 2,259. National back-up elite bowler Rafiq Ismail was second with a 2,251 total followed by Syafiq on 2,248.

It was a close call for Syafiq as he managed to edge Rafiq 179-174 to reach the final.

"I wasn't very comfortable with the lane during the first playoff. It was a tough lane and I knew not to push myself. I just tried to bowl well and pick up all my spares," said Syafiq, who pocketed RM7,000.

"It was much better in the final. But it's never easy playing against Zul. In the 2009 final, it was a fight to the last frame. When you're up against a bowler as experienced as him, you have to give it 110% and that's what I did," added Syafiq.

In the women's Masters, Zatil was in her element as she beat five-time winner Shalin Zulkifli 233-208 to win her first national crown.

Zatil, the 2012 KL International Open champion, fired lines of 258-211-191-255-213-237-203-255-194-212 for a 10-game total of 2,229 to qualify for the playoffs ahead of defending champion Sin Li Jane (2,190) and Shalin (2,105). Shalin earned the right to meet Zatil after beating Li Jane 243-180.

"I'm very happy to win my first national title. I'm lost for words," said a beaming Zatil, who took home RM3,000.

"I was a little nervous going into the final against Shalin. Luckily, I managed to win it," added the 25-year-old national back-up bowler.

Wendy and Jun Hoong strike bronze in 3m springboard synchro

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 06:31 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Divers Cheong Jun Hoong-Wendy Ng Yan Yee earned a career breakthrough bronze medal for Malaysia in the women's 3m springboard synchro at the FINA Diving World Series in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Friday night.

Jun Hoong-Wendy chalked up 283.80 points to bag Malaysia's first-ever medal for the discipline in a world-level diving competition.

China's Wu Minxia Wu-Shi Tingmao, the reigning 1m springboard world champions, bagged the gold with a 332.10 total while Britain's Alicia Blagg-Rebecca Gallantree claimed the silver with 332.10 points.

Jun Hoong-Wendy were not consistent throughout the five-dive contest but they certainly deserved all the praise for not giving up.

Ranked fourth out of five pairs heading into last round, many would have thought Jun Hoong-Wendy, who were only paired up this year after Malaysia earned a quota spot for the event, were already out of medal contention.

Luck also played a big role in their success, especially going into the final dive.

Mexico's Laura Sanchez-Daniela Ramirez, who dived before them, flopped in their final attempt.

Jun Hoong-Wendy then took advantage with a very promising inward 2½ somersault to earn 68.40 points to surge up the scoreboard for the precious bronze.

In the first two legs last month, Jun Hoong-Wendy finished sixth in Beijing and improved two rungs in the following week in Dubai.

"Our performance was all right tonight although we were quite nervous before the competition. Obviously, we are happy to win a medal for Malaysia," said Jun Hoong in a telephone interview.

"We still have room for improvement. We are using the World Series to gain experience for the World Championships in Barcelona (in July)," added Jun Hoong.

Earlier on Friday, London Olympic bronze medallist Pandelela Rinong partnered Leong Mun Yee to bag Malaysia's first medal – a silver in the women's 10m platform synchro.

Pandelela, 2011 and 2012 national Sportswoman of the Year, will return to the pool today where she will bid for a second medal in the individual 10m platform.

Kamaruzaman claims front row spot in Sepang

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 06:30 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing's Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman continued his fine form in the first leg of the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship by claiming a place in the front row at the Sepang International Circuit yesterday.

The 29-year-old earned himself the second spot in today's SuperSports 600cc grid after posting a lap time of 1:05.654.

Japanese Katsuaki Fujiwara of BEET Kawasaki Racing clocked 1:05.569 for the fastest time while Mohd Zamri Baba, riding a Yamaha, was third quickest in 1:05.901.

"It's good to start the race from the front. But I feel a bit disappointed because my lap time was faster yesterday (he clocked 1:05:330 on Friday)," said Azlan.

Makoto Tamada, Azlan's team-mate, will start from the second row with Indonesian M. Fadli of Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing and Ryuta Kobayashi of Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia.

In the Underbone 115cc, Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa of GiVi Honda Yuzy Pachie earned pole position after clocking 1:22.783. Defending overall champion Hadi Wijaya of R9 Racing Team will start in second spot after posting a time of 1:22.974 followed by Norizman Ismail of Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing in third with his time of 1:23.292.

Japanese Hiroki Ono was the fastest in the Asia Dream Cup after he stopped the clock at 1:19.455. Starting alongside Ono will be Jakkrit Swangswat of Thailand (1:20.260) and Malaysian Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali (1:20.368).

Qualifying Results

SuperSports 600cc: 1. Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) 1:05.569, 2. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Honda) 1'05.654, 3. Mohd Zamri Baba (Yamaha) 1:05.901, 4. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1:06.020, 5. M.Fadli (Kawasaki) 1:06.147.

Underbone 115cc: 1. Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa (Honda) 1:22.783, 2. Hadi Wijaya (Yamaha) 1:22.974, 3. Norizman Ismail (Honda) 1:23.292, 4. Kazuki Masaki (Honda) 1:23.351, 5. Affendi Rosli (Honda) 1:23.370.

Asia Dream Cup: 1. Hiroki Ono (Jpn) 1:19.455, 2. Jakkrit Swangswat (Tha) 1:20.260, 3. Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali (Mas) 1:20.368, 4. Dwi Satria (Ina) 1:20.539, 5. Kanatat Jaiman (Tha) 1:20.806.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Star fund for tech start-ups

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 12:33 AM PDT

CHELLIAH, a 20-something recent graduate from a US university, hopes to parlay his degree in computer science and passion for e-commerce into a profitable Internet business.

But lacking the funds, and without sufficient knowledge of the practical aspects such an effort would require, he will, for now, stick to fixing designer coffee at a cafe in PJ.

It is budding entrepreneurs like Chelliah that The Star's new Accelerator Fund hopes to support.

The fund, launched on Wednesday with RM20mil in its coffers, aims to help digital and technology-based entrepreneurs get started and ultimately take their ideas to the market.

The new fund intends to provide seed capital to companies and individuals in the pre-seed and seed phase, with maximum funding of RM300,000 and RM1mil, respectively.

A unique feature of the fund is the host of value-added services that come with the monetary support. Besides ringgit and sen, successful applicants gain access to The Star Media Group's plethora of resources, from branding and marketing to legal advice and media.

The Star corporate services senior manager George Chan, who is overseeing the operations of the fund, points out that financing can be hard to come by for entrepreneurs, especially those who are new to the scene.

"Many ideas never see the light of day because they don't have the funds. It is in this area that we hope to help young Malaysians," he tells StarBizWeek.

"When we set up the fund, our intention was not only to help build the business, but also to assist and nurture the entrepreneur. There are some great technopreneurs out there who are off the grid.

"We would like these people to come forward and take advantage of this opportunity. We are not concerned with whether they speak perfect English or have good presentation skills. We simply want to give them a chance, and listen to their ideas."

Star Publications (M) Bhd executive deputy chairman Datuk Vincent Lee reveals that the project was born out of a challenge thrown to him by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

"Dr Chua suggested that such a programme would not only lend a helping hand to deserving young entrepreneurs, but also bring back talent to Malaysia," Lee says. "Moreover, we aspire to create enterprises that become global game-changers, not just jaguh kampung'".

The fund also heeds the Government's transformation initiatives as spearheaded under the Economic Transformation Programme, which calls on the private sector to boost private investment in the country.

The fund comprises two mechanisms: pre-seed and seed. The difference between the two funding options is the stage of development of the applicant's business.

Pre-seed applicants would require funds to develop their ideas into prototypes. The seed fund applicants, meanwhile, are businesses that already have a prototype and who are ready to commercialise their products.

The fund seeks to assist young Malaysians from the development of an idea into a prototype, through the proof-of-concept stage and finally to market launch. The money for this fund can be channelled to product research and development, intellectual property, legal and compliance, proof-of-concept and pre-commercialisation.

Those who obtain seed-level funding may ask for up to RM1mil. They are required to complete the process of readying their products or services for market entry within a 12-month period. The fund covers the processes necessary for commercial success, namely production, distribution, marketing, sales and customer support.

The Star Accelerator Fund intends to go beyond the traditional role of a financier. In exchange for financial support, The Star is looking to acquire an equity stake in the investee company.

This is not an issue of management control, but rather a mentoring and support process, Chan explains, as many start-ups fail due to a lack of business and financial acumen.

"It is here that we believe our most valuable help will be given. We want to be a partner in the business that we fund to enable growth and ensure sustainability and success."

In terms of eligibility, the founder of the company must be Malaysian and aged 21 years and above.

For the pre-seed fund, a company must be formed with a minimum issued and paid-up capital of RM2,000. On the other hand, an applicant for the seed fund must own a registered company with an issued and paid-up capital of RM10,000.

The industries that qualify for assistance from the fund can be divided into two broad categories: information and communication technology (ICT) and non-ICT (see chart).

Unlike most funds in the market currently, The Star Accelerator Fund is an equity fund and not based on a rebate process.

"Most funds in the market operate on a grant basis, which means you spend the money first and then submit your claim for re-imbursement," Chan says.

"For most start-ups, this can often be an insurmountable barrier since they may not have the initial capital outlay. Start-ups usually need two to three years to break even, and this is provided the product is good.

"We work with our recipients to establish a financial plan and disburse the finances according to an agreed set of key deliverables and timeframes."

Furthermore, those who succeed in obtaining the pre-seed fund can graduate to seed-level funding, Chan adds.

Chan, a chartered accountant, will manage the day-to-day running of the fund together with his colleague Debbie Pozzobon, a former corporate banker who has experience as a managing director and chief financial officer.

After a deal is evaluated by Chan and Pozzobon, it will be recommended to the investment committee for final approval.

"We received over 50 enquiries within 24 hours of the launch. Indeed, we are already assessing our first set of applications. The response from the market has been very encouraging and we are looking forward to a future where we are part of the successful journey of young Malaysians," Chan quips.

Those who attended the launch event came away impressed.

Andrew Tan, director of innovation at digital agency VLT Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd, says: "I think it's great that The Star is taking this step to support current and would-be tech entrepreneurs. What's really exciting is that it's not just about funding but also supporting start-ups through The Star's own experiences and platforms, which is arguably more important to fledgling start-ups.

"This is something that we at VLT Labs also do, helping start-ups accelerate their potential by leveraging our experience in UX, marketing and brand strategy, while connecting them with brands and partners who might elevate them further."

Mah Sing to build more in Rawang

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 12:20 AM PDT

THERE was a time when purchasing a house in Rawang would raise some eyebrows. Unless you grew up there, or have relatives there, a house in Rawang may not be on your check list.

But of late, because of rising land costs and lack of large tracts of land in the Klang Valley, property developers have bought into peripheral locations of the Klang Valley. One of the locations which has received considerable attention is Rawang, about 20km north of Kuala Lumpur.

Several developers have projects there currently, among which are the Low Yat, Glomac and Guocoland groups. This list is not exhaustive as they are others who are active there but these are the names that have cropped up for now.

Last week, Mah Sing Group Bhd organised a press trip to view its show village. The developer has more than 380 acres in Rawang. It has divided this into two separate developments and branded them M Residence 1 and 2. The two pieces of land are about 1km from each other, accessible via Jalan Tasik Puteri.

It launched M Residence 1 a few years ago and sales have been brisk, according to its deputy general manager for corporate communications Lyanna Tew. To give an idea how confident it is despite the location, the group will soon be launching phase 4 of M Residence 1 which comprises 68 units of double-storey semi-detached houses, priced from RM918,000 to RM1.2mil each. They will come in 40 ft x 85 ft units.

There will be 173 double-storey super-linked units which are yet to be priced.

Development on M Residence 1 will be carried out in six phases. According to Mah Sing Properties Sdn Bhd senior manager for marketing and sales Angela Chong, the first three phases of M Residence 1 are about 90% sold.

The total land area of M Residence 1 is about 226 acres. The land, a former oil palm estate, was purchased in October 2011. Because of its land size, the developer will be building some commercial and retail elements into M Residence 1. These retail portions will front Jalan Tasik Puteri.

While it is still developing the M Residence 1 site, the developer is preparing to launch M Residence 2. Unlike years ago when developers complete a project before moving on to the next, the Mah Sing group has undertaken quite a number of projects simultaneously.

The land area for M Residence 2 is smaller, at 157 acres compared to the 226 acres in the first M Residence project, and was purchased in February 2012.

The gross development value for the first phase in M Residence 2, Alpine, is approximately RM197mil for 415 units. The official launch for M Residence 2 is expected to be in the second half of this year.

The company will be selling about 200 units first and the remaining 215 units in the latter part of the year. The size of these units are 20 ft x 65 ft.

Generally, the sizes of double-storey housing come in 22 x 75 sizes. Some may say, it's just 2ft. Actually, that 2 ft makes a lot of difference. The indicative prices are from RM460,000 to RM870,000 a unit. According to its sales staff, prices may increase by RM20,000 a unit for the remaining 215 units when they are launched subsequently.

That effectively means that in the coming months, it will be offering for sale both double-storey terraced units and semi-detached units under the M Residence brand. When the company first launched its M Residence brand, double-storey housing in M Residence 1 were priced from RM570,000. This has risen over time.

In terms of absolute price, the double-storey units in leasehold M Residence 2 are priced lower. According to Mah Sing senior manager Angela Chong, prices of double-storey terraces in freehold M Residence 1 are about RM630,000, compared with M Residence 2 units of about RM460,000. These units in the subsequent development are smaller. The units on M Residence 1 are also bigger, at 22 ft x 80 ft. Besides the land status and unit size, M Residence 1 is a guarded project where units are individually titled. It is not a strata development under the Strata Title Act while M Residence 2 is a leasehold, gated and guarded strata development. External renovations can only be done with the permission of the joint management body. Strata projects come with certain encumbrances.

Among one of the first guarded projects there was Kota Emerald, a new township of 1,000 acres which started about a decade ago in a joint venture by GuocoLand (M) Bhd and Hong Bee Land Sdn Bhd. This is a not a strata development but are individually-titled units. Even back in early 2000s, there was already concern about security. That was how the guarded concept in Kota Emerald, Rawang came about.

Other developers who are in Rawang include Glomac group and the Low Yat group. Glomac's Rawang Saujana is a leasehold 345-acre project near Country Homes Rawang. The developer is building semi-detached units, double-storey terraced housing, bungalows and shops there. As most Malaysian families opt for double-storey houses, a comparison is reasonable. Rawang Saujana's previous phase of double-storey housing was priced at about RM500,000 a unit. It will be having a new launch next month but prices are not available yet.

Low Yat's leasehold project Garden Heights is also near Mah Sing's developments. It launched double-storey houses of 18 ft x 75 ft in September 2012 priced at RM350,000 each. There are less than 10 units left of these today. The company will be launching Garden Heights 2 in June and this time it will be offering larger units of 20 ft x 75 ft at RM420,000.

First Tune Hotel in India to open next month

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 12:19 AM PDT

NEW DELHI: Tune Hotels' first Indian hotel located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, will open on May 15, according to Business Standard.

The daily rate would be between 2,000 and 2,500 rupees (RM112-RM140), but would go for 599 rupees (RM33.70) for early bookers, said the report.

The no-frills hotel chain's daily rate could go as low as 180 rupees (RM10.10) during promotional periods, it added.

So far, the company had hired 20 people for the 100-room hotel, and with more properties in the pipeline, it would get at least 500 more people on board, Tune Hotels' group chief executive officer Mark Lankester (pic) said.

"We see high growth potential in India. We haven't even rushed into China, as we think India has a solid ground for growth," Lankester said.

According to the report, Tune Hotels is investing US$30mil (RM91mil) in a 60:40 joint venture with Apodis Hotels. – Bernama


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

GE13: Thousands at mammoth dinner to show support for Najib

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 08:27 AM PDT

KLANG: Over 60,000 people thronged Westport here for a gathering to show their support for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Barisan Nasional.

Najib told the crowd that there was no need to change the time-tested Barisan Nasional government which has persevered to bring about peace and harmony despite immense challenges both domestic and foreign.

He said the country under the Barisan government had faced numerous challenges in the past such as fighting communism and dealing with the Confrontation, but has prevailed in overcoming them and in the process, ensuring peace, harmony and stability.

"Last month, we faced the terrorists who landed in Lahad Datu and we fought them to ensure peace returned to Sabah.

"This is the kind of government we want, the government that is willing and able to ensure peace and harmony in the country," he said in his speech.

Najib questioned the motive of certain quarters who insist on bringing about change to the country when the current government was able to bring real change politically, economically and socially.

He said there were "certain politicians talking about change," but he asked, "what is there to change." "You want to change peace and harmony in the country with conflict and violence? Is that what you want?," he asked.

Najib told the mainly Chinese crowd that the government had done much especially in the field of education.

Besides allowing the building of SM Chong Hwa in Kuantan, he said, the government has relocated 71 Chinese schools to new sites.

The government would also continue to allocate RM100 million yearly for Chinese schools.

"The government is currently discussing with Chinese academic organisation, Dong Zong, on the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC)," he said.

Najib said with the various changes being implemented by the government, it was now up to the rakyat to make their choice of leaders they trust to lead the country in the May 5 elections.

Although the event only started at 8pm, the crowd had made its way to the venue as early as 5pm.

The fine weather allowed thousands of youths, clad in the blue Barisan Nasional T-shirts, to form kilometres-long motorcade with their motorcycles to welcome Najib.

About 5,000 tables were set up by the event's organiser, Gabungan Persatuan Keturunan Cina Selangor, to serve dinner to the guests who came from all over Selangor.

While waiting for the arrival of Najib, video clips of patriotic songs were shown on five giant screens.

Present were Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and movie star Datuk Michelle Yeoh.

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

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Mammoth dinner planned in Malaysian Book of Records' bid
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GE13: Lumut PKR big guns leave party over choice of candidate

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 08:21 AM PDT

LUMUT: Unhappy with PKR's selection of candidates, the Lumut division chairman and 13 branch chairmen decided to leave the party.

Division chairman P. Shamugum said he and the others agreed to leave the party after learning that the nomination of First Admiral (R) Mohd Imran Abdul Hamid as PKR's candidate was approved on Saturday.

There are 23 PKR branches in the entire parliamentary constituency, he added.

Shamugum said he was disappointed with the party's decision to field Mohd Imran, who was a PAS member, under the PKR ticket.

"The top brass of the party should have given the grassroots leaders a chance, as we have been serving the people all these years," he told reporters at the division office here on Saturday (April 20).

"I have forked out RM60,000 to aid social welfare works for the local community in the last three years," he added.

Shamugum, 58, said he had been hopeful that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would reconsider the choice of candidate.

He also felt that the party could have fielded a local PKR member for the Pangkor state seat instead of Mohd Saifullah Mohd Zulkifli, a parachute candidate'.

Shamugum said at the moment, he and his men had no plans to enter any political parties but would join non-governmental organisations to support candidates whom they deemed deserve to win in the May 5 general election.

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

GE13: Martial arts exercise keeps Ghani Othman physically fit

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 08:12 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Johor Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman is mentally and physically prepared to face DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on May 5.

According to his wife, Datin Dr Jamilah Ariffin, Ghani's physical preparation came from his daily one-hour workout of the lai jin exercise, which is popular in Hong Kong.

Jamilah said the exercise was meant to improve the blood circulation and strengthen the joints such as limbs and elbows.

"Lai jin is similar to tai chi but the former is perform on a bench including lying on your back and raising your legs up high in the air," Jamilah told The Star on Saturday.

She was accompanying Ghani at the nomination centre where he filed his papers for the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat.

Ghani said he had also recommended lai jin to Lim while they were having breakfast after filing the papers.

Reporters saw Ghani demonstrate the exercise movements from afar as the two leaders were having breakfast at the function room.

Lim was sharing a table with Ghani, Skudai state seat contenders - Dr Zaini Abu Bakar (BN) and Dr Boo Cheng Hau (DAP).

Also there were Nusajaya state seat candidates Liang Ah Chy (BN) and Salahuddin Ayub (PAS).

Ghani said it was not an issue for him to contest the parliamentary seat after holding the post of Johor Mentri Besar for almost 20 years.

This will be the second time that Ghani is contesting a federal seat.

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


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 05:57 AM PDT


Parts of Jalan Damansara heading towards Bangsar will be closed to traffic from 9pm to 6am daily until April 30. For details, call 012-564 9371 (Munusamy).


In conjunction with its 25th anniversary, the International Youth Centre is holding its open day today and tommorow, from 9am to 6pm, at its premises in Jalan Yaakob Latif, Cheras. Activities line-up include a cardio bike challenge, an innovative aerobic marathon and paintball. For details, call 03-91719204 or visit or visit the iycmalaysia page on Facebook.


The Klang Samaritans are organising a free medical camp on May 12 from 8.30am to 1pm at Rita Homes Klang, 10 1/4 Mile, Jalan Kapar, Selangor. There will also be a classic car display. For details, call 012-3399574 (Maheswaran) or 012-2826625 (Thvanesan).


Persatuan Hoki Negeri Selangor is organising a hockey clinic for children under 12 from the Gombak district on April 28, from 7.30am to 3pm, at SK Taman Prima Selayang. For details, call 019-2712955 (Cikgu Muhan) or 019-2631107 (Cikgu Azman).


The One Academy Degree Show will be showcasing a myriad creations including advertising designs, mobile apps, animation and narrative illustrations, at The Annexe Gallery, Level 2, Central Market Annexe, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur, from April 27 to 29, from 10am until 6pm. For details, visit


The Mines is organising "My Mum, Our Story" contest. Participants are invited to share an interesting story about their mothers and them. It is open to contestants aged 18 and above. Deadline for submissions is May 4. For details, call 03-8949 6333 or visit


Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Self-Realisation Society is organising an introduction to kriya yoga at 17-4, Jalan 1/114, Kuchai Business Centre, off Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur today, from 3pm to 5pm. To RSVP, send SMS to 012-385 0267/ 016-535 7335 or visit


GGP Grief Support Group will hold meetings every Sunday from 2pm to 4pm from now till July 7 on 3rd Floor, Bangunan Yin (SIBKL) Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. To register, call 012-387 8668 or email


The St Michael's Institution Alumni Association Klang Valley will hold its 2013 annual dinner at Tropicana Golf & Country Club, Petaling Jaya from 6.30pm on April 27. For details, call 012-3661223 (Francis), 019-2225660 (Michael) or 016-2737808 (Helen).

Australian making the best of her stay in Malaysia

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 05:57 AM PDT

Living in a foreign land away from family is tough, but Philippa Holmes makes up for it by making the most of her stay here in Malaysia.

Having been in the country for only a year-and-a-half, the Australian revels in the diverse flavours that make up the Malaysian cuisine and society.

"I was a little raw when I first arrived, but I am getting a bit better with the spices," Holmes said.

Holmes relocated to Malaysia in September 2011 following her appointment as general manager at Setia City Mall under Lend Lease, an international property and infrastructure group.

Since her arrival, Holmes had been busy managing the mall's grand opening, which took place in June last year, and subsequently the daily management of the shopping complex.

But she always finds time to indulge in the local culture, attending open houses during festive seasons and even enrolling in Malay cooking classes.

"I love Mandarin oranges and tossing yee sang is a lot of fun. It is probably the only time you get to make a mess with your food," Holmes said with a laugh.

It helps that Malaysians are friendly and accommodating, and they take the time to share and explain their culture, she added.

Holmes' friends here have also brought her to sample some of the best nasi lemak, banana leaf rice and her favourite Nyonya asam fish at famous spots around the Klang Valley.

"It would be remiss of me not to mention the food, the variety and flavours are amazing. A personal favourite that was introduced by one of my is the Nyonya asam fish."

Holmes also mused that Malaysians were an energetic lot.

"In Australia, our shopping centres trade typically from 9am to 6pm, with the only late-night trade being on Thursdays and that is only till 9pm. It still amazes me to see small children and parents playing in the park past 10pm while I walk around like a zombie," she said.

One of the things Holmes misses about Australia is not being able to see her family during long weekends. She makes short trips back home two to three times a year to see them.

However, Holmes said she was fortunate to have lots of friends and family members visiting her since arriving here and she loves to show them around her new home.

While she also misses the Australian beaches, she said there were various places in Malaysia where she could spend her weekends.

"That is made up for with all the wonderful weekend adventures that can be had in Malaysia. It is a beautiful country to travel around," she said.

Holmes heads out to local and regional holiday destinations such as Penang and Thailand during weekends. Next on her list are Cameron Highlands and Pulau Perhentian.

Travelling and immersing herself in new cultures is not something new for the adventure-lover.

Malaysia is the eighth country that Holmes has worked in after stints in France, Spain and the UK where she was involved in managing events such as Wimbledon, British Grand Prix, Royal Ascot and the Ryder Cup.

"I suppose I have a bit of a travel bug," she said smiling.

But for now, Holmes is happy to be settled in her temporary home — Malaysia.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Marking Record Store Day

Posted: 20 Apr 2013 02:50 AM PDT

Today is Record Store Day, and while the world celebrates in sonic synergy, Malaysia's still looking for the party.

THERE'S an almost inexplicable joy and thrill to walking into a music store and buying a bunch of music titles. Forget downloading music, seriously ... it just isn't the same. If you're a serious music enthusiast, you'll know there's always that tactile sensation of holding a record, CD or cassette in your hand. It feels tangible, it feels real – everything from the smell, the artwork and the often sprawling liner notes.

Poring over rows and rows of records or CDs is barely a chore, particularly if it means you find that one desirable title among hundreds of negligible ones. And enjoying the posters and music paraphernalia on the walls and display areas is part and parcel of the entire process. What an experience.

But let's back the stylus up to the first groove, shall we ...

When people reminisce, they often describe a period in time from long ago as being like yesterday, but 1984 was really a long time ago, and it definitely was not yesterday, last week nor last month. It was back in the plastic age of music (synths ruled supreme, remember?) that I became a record buyer. Well, it was cassettes back then, though.

When the school bus dropped my brother and I off at school in the afternoon (I was in Standard 3 and he in Form 1), the first thing we'd do was peruse the new pirated cassettes (this is no advocation of buying illegal goods) on the shelves of the music store opposite the town bus station in Ipoh, Perak. The rage album back then (for us, anyway) was Alphaville's Forever Young.

If I recall correctly, we bought that same album three times – we wore the first copy down; the second was stolen; so we bought a third copy. A cassette was RM2.90, and with the modest allowance we had back then, that meant a few good weeks of starving, but it was always worth it.

My two brothers were instrumental in getting me into the music-buying habit. My eldest brother was always mainstream, while my second continues his trek in seeking eclectic music to this day, so I had the advantage of embracing the best of both worlds and have become the wiser for it.

Back then, we were still pooling our resources to buy cassettes, but in 1988, I bought the first cassette with my own money – it was Europe's Out Of This World album. I'm not sure if it was the music that was great or the fact that the princely sum of RM10 went into its purchase, but the fact that I bought a used CD of the album a few years ago might suggest the former.

When the 1990s were in full bloom, the CD revolution took over and cassettes were slowly but surely relegated to the history books. My purchases then included a mix of the alternative bands of the time and classic rock titles. Given the meagre salary I was earning then, it's astounding the number of CDs I accumulated, but that was just it about being bitten by the music bug – if you liked or were curious about a title, you'd have sleepless nights right up to the time it finally became yours. I had many sleepless nights, I assure you, induced particularly by the paranoia that someone else would pick that copy up.

I recall losing out on a Mick Ronson (David Bowie's guitarist in the early 1970s) compilation I'd spotted at the sprawling CD Rama store in Wisma Atria in Petaling Jaya, Selangor in the mid 1990s. A few years later, I would find out that a colleague (at that time) had bought it. I wanted to punch his lights out, but he was fortunate that I got my own not long after that.

Towards the tail end of the 1990s, I was seduced by a new "vice" – vinyl LPs, which, not surprisingly, was the first medium I listened to. Joining The Star's AudioFile section meant there was no escape from the jaws of perennial purchases of music software. I bought LPs by the armloads at AV shows and later, found a neat little store in my hometown Ipoh, to my finances' dismay.

I'd walk in with a wad of cash and return with a carton of titles ... some used, and some sealed copies dating back to the early 1980s and 1970s.

Today is Record Store Day, an event celebrated the world over, and in particular, the United States, where it began earnestly in 2007 to acknowledge the role independent record stores have played in getting music to the listening audience. Though vinyl records may be the focus, Record Store Day – which is celebrated on the third week of April annually – also accepts other music formats.

The day principally recognises standalone stores and not multinational or online outlets (Amazon, CD Baby etc), whose business model comprises 50% music retail. Also part of the criteria is the need for 70% of the store's ownership be located in its state of operation.

Special titles have been prepared for participating Record Store Day outlets, where record buyers can get the first listen to new tunes by their favourite artistes. Among the limited run specials are a white seven-inch vinyl of David Bowie's recently-released The Stars Are Out Tonight and a reissue of Drive-In Saturday on picture disc, from 1973's Aladdin Sane. Also included are seven-inch releases by Pink Floyd and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds.

None of them will be sold or made available in Malaysian record stores. At a glance, you can already see official Record Store Day celebrations in Singapore and Jakarta, with record shops (and some music labels) there making a point to buzz up this special day for music fans. If anything, there will be an unofficial Record Store Day celebration at Joe's Macc vinyl store at Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya this weekend. It's a small start, but at least, somebody remembered.

Thankfully, records are still championed here in Malaysia, even if in niche form, from secondhand stores to CD outlets stocking up on limited quantities of new releases. A ravenous following still proliferates for the format, and music-buying in general, but the volume shifted is simply nowhere near what it used to be.

Our nation marks so many different days in a year as momentous occasions, yet, Record Store Day isn't one of them. It comes down to a deep-rooted malaise that the arts will never be whole-heartedly appreciated here, which is why music has always been flippantly treated as dispensable.

As for the record labels, the tragedy of incessant new single downloads and compilations will continue, with barely a thought spent for Record Store Day.

Buying music software isn't just a culture – to some, it's almost a religion.

Reshmonu to work with top US producer on new album

Posted: 19 Apr 2013 04:19 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Reshmonu, the Malaysian R&B singer-songwriter, is all set to collaborate with top American producer Jim Beanz to produce his first album for international release in Britain and North America.

The 36-year-old leaves for Philadelphia to work with Beanz on the yet-untitled album in the first week of May. Beanz has worked with top-notch singers like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Shakira, Missy Elliot, Chris Brown to name a few.

"I'll be there for 20 days and will be working back-to-back on the eight tracks, which are currently being structured by Beanz and his team there," said Reshmonu yesterday.

"About a month ago, my team and I were discussing how we had already done the rounds in Asia and that maybe it was time to look further. So, my team sent out e-mails to a group of eclectic mix of international major production houses and top producers."

Sunset Entertainment Group, which represents Beanz, expressed interest to work with Reshmonu, resulting in a working relationship.

"Basically they are prepping me and the album for big award season next year. That's all I can say for the moment," said Reshmonu, adding that the album is scheduled for release early next year.

Hip-hop stars wax lyrical over Penang hawker fare

Posted: 19 Apr 2013 04:08 PM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Two top US hip-hop stars are singing praises of Penang hawker fare.

Chart-topping artiste Busta Rhymes and fellow rapper Swizz Beatz were busy tucking into the state's street food at the Sri Weld food court almost immediately upon arriving here.

They enjoyed local favourites, including char koay teow, nasi lemak and roast chicken after a short trishaw ride around the heritage enclave.

Busta Rhymes, who collaborated with fellow American singer Chris Brown on the latter's Grammy-nominated song Look At Me Now, professed a love for spicy food.

"Look at my plate – the flat noodles and rice are all gone and I'm still not done. The flavours are similar to what I grew up eating as my mum raised me on spicy cooking," he said yesterday.

They arrived at the Kapitan Keling Mosque at about 10.30am, immediately upon touching down at the Penang International Airport.

He said Penangites could expect "a show of unity and positive vibes" at the 1Malaysia Welfare Club charity concert tonight.

Busta Rhymes said their first visit to the country was for a very specific reason.

"We are here to support a very just cause and to show how a unified force can bring about (positive) change," he said.

The duo, who were accompanied by 1Malaysia Pen­ang Welfare Club president Geh Choh Hun and businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, will be performing at the Han Chiang High School field.

"Jho Low is like a brother to us. Ours is a genuine friendship – there is no talk of money or business," Busta Rhymes said.

Over 55,000 tickets featuring the international artistes have been sold.The target is to raise RM5mil.

The concert, organised by the club, would also see Redfoo of LMFAO and Ludacris in action, along with Hong Kong superstars Leon Lai, Alan Tham, Hacken Lee, George Lam, Gigi Leung and Grasshopper.

Other featured artistes include Ning Baizura, Eric Moo, Suchitra, Taiwanese Angela Chang and Berlin-based Compressorhead Robot Band.

The gates will ope­n at 3.30pm while the concert is slated to kick off at 5pm.

Geh said those who had yet to get tickets could come and make an on-the-spot donation at the entrance.

"They will still be allowed to enter and watch the concert although they may have to brave a long queue."


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