Ahad, 28 April 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Yew got it

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 11:55 PM PDT

Former beauty queen Joanne Yew talks about her comeback to the entertainment scene and why she prefers dating Malaysian men.

JOANNE Yew is the kind of girl who would make you stop and stare. And it is not just because that, at nearly 1.76m, she makes most Malaysian men look like hobbits. With porcelain skin and a sultry persona, the 25-year-old stands out as a power-packed combination of a supermodel and a bubbly K-pop star.

Indeed, Yew knows how to work her magic with an audience. In 2007, the fashion marketing and management student competed at the Miss Astro International beauty pageant and took home the coveted crown.

It seems almost inevitable that fame and recognition would come a-calling afterwards. Yew quickly became the "it" girl in the fashion and entertainment scene, scoring modelling gigs and roles in various commercials, and even starred in a local drama series before moving on to pursue a bachelor's degree in South Korea.

Now, the pretty lady is back in showbiz with her first feature film, Nation Movie, more than ready to charm everyone once again.

Nation Movie, produced by Malaysian director Chiu Keng Guan, is the third instalment to his trilogy of family-oriented films, which include Woohoo! (2010) and Great Day (2011).

Woohoo! was selected as one of the Top 10 films at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2011, where it was screened for the first time outside Malaysia.

Great Day, on the other hand, raked in a whopping RM5.8mil in box office collection within a month of its release.

Nation Movie revolves around a conservative Chinese father, Uncle Quan (played by 73-year-old Frankie Lee), who reluctantly agrees to his daughter's marriage to a Brit, Benji (played by Australian actor Ben Pfeifer).

Here is where the all-too-familiar East-West culture clash comes in. Old Uncle Quan insists that the couple hosts a traditional Chinese wedding and also to deliver their wedding invitation cards by hand (because he's never heard of e-mail), all for the sake of "saving face".

Soon enough, the recalcitrant uncle finds himself on a road trip across the peninsula with the carefree Englishman. Together, they set out to deliver the invitations to Quan's former schoolmates.

Along the journey, Uncle Quan starts to grow fond of the strapping Benji. The strained relationship between Quan and his daughter, Bee, also undergoes a transformation that would forever change their lives.

"Making the film has been an exciting experience," Yew, who plays the role of Bee, shared.

"My character is a strong lady who was sent to England by her dad when she was very young. He was forced to send her overseas after her mother died because there was no one to take care of her. She has always been angry at him for sending her away."

Needless to say, there is a great deal of tension between father and daughter. However, working with Lee has been great fun, Yew said.

"We fight a lot in the film, but he is such a fun person to work with in real life. He is a fun old 'young' man," she said with a laugh.

Yew's experiences in the dating scene also served as research fodder for her performance.

"I have met many men from different countries and went on quite a number of dates when I was in South Korea," she recalled candidly.

"But I still prefer Malaysian guys. I find that they have a sort of 'innocence', and we share similar beliefs such as treating our elders with respect and upholding family values. Also, I grew up here and I feel more comfortable dating a Malaysian."

The chatty actress added: "I encountered a lot of 'ta nan ren' (male chauvinists) when I was in Korea. I don't like 'ta nan ren', because I am a 'ta nu ren' (feminist)!

"I have also met a lot of 'huai nan ren' (bad guys), so I am feeling a little numb right now. I will just sit back and relax, and wait for whatever that comes," she said with a sigh.

For director Chiu, casting the outspoken Yew was an easy decision. Unlike Woohoo! and Great Day, which starred some of the nation's biggest names such as Jack Lim, Vivian Tok and Royce Tan, Chiu decided to do away with the tried-and-tested method and went out of his way to scout new talents this time around.

"I wanted to explore the potential of these new and aspiring actors and actresses for this film," the director explained.

"We must have seen over 100 auditions and we were about to end when Joanne appeared at the last minute. I saw her video clip and knew instantly that we have found our female lead," he concluded.

Nation Movie is expected to hit the cinemas later this year. For more information about the film, visit facebook.com/ulala2013 or ulala.la.

On the election trail

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 11:58 PM PDT

988 gets you up to speed on GE13.

IF YOU feel overwhelmed with the amount of information and news on the upcoming general election, worry not, as 988 will dispense hourly news highlights on GE13 so you can be clued in on what's happening.

Since the dissolution of parliament, 988 has been covering GE13 with a special segment called Da Xuan Zhui Zhui Zhui (The Election Trail).

The segment, prepared by the 988 news team, aims to provide listeners with accurate coverage on everything pertaining to elections. Stay up-to-date with 988's hourly reports from 7am to 8pm daily.

Being in a democratic nation, voting is a citizen's duty. 988 urges its listeners to perform their responsibility in deciding the nation's future. This week, Morning Up Cases (weekdays, 8am-9am) will feature a showcase named Rock & Roll Home To Vote in line with this cause.

988 has also gathered 20 artistes to do shout-outs on air to encourage voters to exercise their right to vote. To further promote the "Undi" campaign, 988 will be distributing car stickers to the public via 988 Cruisers. These limited edition car stickers bear the message "Tou Nin Shuo Hao. Ai Ma Lai Xi Ya" (Vote Wisely. Love Malaysia).

Also on 988 this week

> Morning Up Cases (Monday-Friday, 8am-9am): The 13th General Election, to be held on May 5, is presumably the country's most intense election since Independence. To both the Ruling Party and the Opposition, every vote counts. "Jom Balik Undi" is a campaign initiated by Malaysian Netizens to urge fellow registered voters overseas to return home to vote. Find out more about today's political campaign on cyberspace.

> The Feature (Monday, Tuesday, 9am-10am): Although many old folks are blessed with filial children who take responsible for their parents' well being, some are sent to elderly care centres. 988 looks into the topic of old age and care centres this week.

> Morning Up VIP (Wednesday-Friday, 9am-10am): Famous funnyman Eric Tsang once said: "I decided to become a martial artist because I'm agile." Yet today, he is well known as the "Jiang Mun Yan" (Game Master) in the popular variety show Super Trio. Want to know more about Tsang? Do not miss this exclusive interview.

> Music Gets Crazy (Monday-Friday, 1pm-4pm): From singer to actor, and now a boss, Wilber Pan Wei Bo has never failed to perform his best. Catch Pan and also Cantopop singer, William So Wing Hong and Taiwanese band, Magic Power in Stars Guide this week.

> Music VIP (Monday-Friday, 2pm): Now that he has established a career in Taiwan, Anthony Neely – who grew up in the United States – wants to get in touch with the Taiwanese culture. Has he succeeded in doing so? Tune in to find out.

For more information, log on to www.988.com.my. 988 is a subsidiary of Star Radio Group.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Ten killed in battles between armed groups in Mexico - reports

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 07:26 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Ten people were reported killed in clashes on Sunday between armed groups in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, which is plagued by battles between rival drug gangs.

Skirmishes broke out in two communities near the town of Apatzingan, a drug gang stronghold, according to local media. State officials could not be immediately reached by Reuters and a federal official could not confirm details of the battles.

The dead were reportedly members of vigilante groups that have recently sprung up in the region, claiming that state and federal police are not protecting them from criminal gangs.

Media reports said groups armed with high-powered rifles and grenades attacked vigilante checkpoints early Sunday.

Michoacan is a major centre for methamphetamine production. Rival gangs are fighting over turf as they produce the drug in labs nestled among the poor state's rugged mountains, where marijuana and opium crops are also grown.

The state has been hit by civil unrest this month. Protesters blocked major streets and highways about a week ago in the capital and others cities. The state's governor stepped down this month for health reasons, leaving an interim governor in place.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December, has vowed to reduce the violence that has exploded in Mexico in the last decade.

Nearly 70,000 died in gang violence during the last six-year administration and more than 4,200 have died in the first four months of Pena Nieto's term, a slower pace than early 2012.

This year, vigilante groups have popped up in communities across Michoacan, the neighbouring state of Guerrero and southern Oaxaca state, saying they are outraged by extortion, kidnapping, theft and violence caused by drug gangs.

A leader of Michoacan's Knights Templar cartel, known for its pseudo-religious rituals and gang rules, surfaced in a video on Saturday, local media reported, accusing vigilante groups in the state of working for a rival drug trafficking group.

In the video, whose authenticity could not be verified by Reuters, a man identified as Knights Templar leader Servando Gomez, known as "La Tuta," accused the armed vigilantes of working for the Jalisco New Generation gang, which is linked to drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa cartel.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Five rescued, two missing in balloon crash off Peruvian coast

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 07:13 PM PDT

LIMA (Reuters) - Five people were rescued and two were missing on Sunday after a hot air balloon plunged into the chilly waters off the coast of Peru, officials said.

A police helicopter and navy boats helped pull five women out of the Pacific Ocean after searching for them for eight hours. They were taken to a hospital for treatment.

Two men were still missing, Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza told local media.

"I hope we can find them as soon as possible. The two are still missing. We only know that one of them tried to swim ashore. The search will continue, even through the night, until they are found," he told RPP radio without saying what caused the mishap.

The red-and-white balloon, carrying six passengers and a pilot, crashed near Canete, about 60 miles (101 km) south of Lima, the capital. Local media indicated all those aboard were Peruvians.

(Reporting By Terry Wade; Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Millions in CIA "ghost money" paid to Afghan president's office - NYT

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 07:02 PM PDT

(Reuters) - Tens of millions of U.S. dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for more than a decade, according to the New York Times, citing current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

The so-called "ghost money" was meant to buy influence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington's exit strategy from Afghanistan, the newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening ceremony of the third year of the Afghanistan parliament in Kabul March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening ceremony of the third year of the Afghanistan parliament in Kabul March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

"The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan", one American official said, "was the United States."

The CIA declined to comment on the report and the U.S. State Department did not immediately comment. The New York Times did not publish any comment from Karzai or his office.

"We called it รข€˜ghost money'," Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai's chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times. "It came in secret and it left in secret."

For more than a decade the cash was dropped off every month or so at the Afghan president's office, the newspaper said.

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the CIA in Afghanistan since the start of the war.

The cash payments to the president's office do not appear to be subject to oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or the CIA's formal assistance programmes, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies, and do not appear to violate U.S. laws, said the New York Times.

There was no evidence that Karzai personally received any of the money, Afghan officials told the newspaper. The cash was handled by his National Security Council, it added.

U.S. and Afghan officials familiar with the payments were quoted as saying that the main goal in providing the cash was to maintain access to Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the CIA's influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan's highly centralized government.

Much of the money went to warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade and in some cases the Taliban, the New York Times said. U.S. and Afghan officials were quoted as saying the CIA supported the same patronage networks that U.S. diplomats and law enforcement agents struggled to dismantle, leaving the government in the grip of organised crime.

In 2010, Karzai said his office received cash in bags from Iran, but that it was a transparent form of aid that helped cover expenses at the presidential palace. He said at the time that the United States made similar payments.

The latest New York Times report said much of the Iranian cash, like the CIA money, went to pay warlords and politicians.

For most of Karzai's 11-year reign, there has been little interest in anti-corruption in the army or police. The country's two most powerful institutions receive billions of dollars from donors annually but struggle just to recruit and maintain a force bled by high rates of desertion.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Bell and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

World No. 1 Park wins North Texas LPGA Shootout

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 04:54 PM PDT

IRVING, Texas - World number one Park In-Bee drained a birdie putt at the final hole Sunday to win the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout, holding off Spain's Carlota Ciganda by one stroke.

Park claimed the sixth LPGA title of her career and her third this year, a run of success that saw her rise to number one in the world this month - one week after her major victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The South Korean played steady golf, posting four birdies without a bogey, her four-under 67 at Las Colinas giving her a 13-under total of 271.

Ciganda, who kept the pressure on Park with her own birdie at 18, finished with a one-under 70 for 272. Ciganda, the 2012 Rookie of the Year on the Ladies European Tour, started the day with a two-stroke lead.

After a bogey at the second she settled down, posting birdies at the third, sixth, eighth and 10th to move to 14-under for the tournament - two strokes in front of Park as they dueled in the final group.

But the young Spaniard's round came unstuck with a bogey at the 14th, followed by a double-bogey at 15 that let Park assume a one-shot lead. At the par-five 18th, Park was in the fairway and Ciganda just off the fairway with a testing shot through the trees to the green.

Park opted to go for the green and finished up just short, while Ciganda fired through the green.

Ciganda's pitch left her a tough birdie putt, but she rattled it in to pull level, leaving Park, who chipped to about four feet, with a birdie putt to win.

The South Korean calmly rolled hers in, giving a little fist pump as the ball dropped.

"I had a lot of birdie chances out there, but I missed a lot of them, especially on the front nine," Park said. "I was trying to be very patient and finally the last one dropped."

Norway's Suzann Pettersen carded a final-round 66 to claim third place on 274.

South Koreans Park Hee-Young and Ryu So-Yeon shared fourth on 275, Park after a blazing seven-under 64 that included seven birdies with no bogeys and Ryu with a 68.

South Korean I.K. Kim finished alone in sixth after a 68 for 276.

Chong Wei dedicates win to newborn son Kingston

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 04:57 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Fatherhood has not slowed down world No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei (pic) at all.

Yesterday, Chong Wei, the proud father of newborn son Kingston, delivered his 13th blow to Kenichi Tago of Japan in the men's singles final en route to regaining the India Open title in New Delhi yesterday.

Looking more pumped up and determined, the 30-year-old Chong Wei showed more urgency in his game when he powered his way to a 21-15, 18-21, 21-17 win over Kenichi.

And immediately after the win, he dedicated it to his two-week-old baby boy. It was his first Super Series title as a father.

Chong Wei's victory yesterday was his 13th over the Japanese, who almost beat the Malaysian in the 2010 All-England final.

And yesterday, the determined Kenichi showed that he had taken their rivalry to another level when he almost pulled it off again.

Armed with variety of tricks in his attacking forte, the Japanese pushed Chong Wei to the limit but the Malaysian did not crumble.

After losing the opening game, Kenichi upped the tempo with his fascinating smashes and tight spinning net shots to race to a 11-3 lead and finally wrapped up the second game at 21-18.

The decider was close and both were often locked in long and thrilling rallies before Chong Wei pulled away for his 31st Super Series title.

It was also the Malaysian's third Super Series title this year after winning the Malaysian and South Korean Opens in January. It was certainly a much better performances from Chong Wei who lost to China's Tian Houwei in the semi-finals of the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold last month.

Chong Wei was thrilled to bits with his second India Open title and he described the win as more "meaningful".

"Today, I have won my first Super Series title as a father and I dedicate it to my baby Kingston," said a delighted Chong Wei, who had also won the title in 2011.

"I could have won the match in straight games today but I lost focus against Tago in the second game. What is important is not the manner of how I won it but the end result.

"Tago has improved. But some of my errors and mistakes in the decider made him look good. Anyway, I am happy to keep my winning record against him intact."

On his participation in the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold, the top seed and defending champion said: "I am heading back home immediately after this (the victory ceremony). I will arrive tomorrow (today) and I will decide whether I am still up to it."

National singles coach Tey Seu Bock was relieved that Chong Wei pulled off the win yesterday although it was not his best game.

"It was not a very good second game as Tago was ruthless in his attack and Chong Wei, who is normally solid with his defence, was unable to counter," said Seu Bock.

"The beauty about Chong Wei was that he was still able to turn it around and nailed the title. He never gives up and I am proud of him."

In the women's singles, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon finally ended her bridesmaid role in the international stage by winning her first and deserved Super Series title in two years with a 22-20, 21-14 victory over Julianne Schenk of Germany.

The 19-year-old Ratchanok, a bright talent from Thailand had finished second at the last four Opens over the last two years, including last month's All-England but yesterday, she showed her hunger and determination to end her title drought.

Final results

Men's singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Kenichi Tago (Jpn) 21-15, 18-21, 21-17.

Men's doubles: Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan (Chn) bt Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) 22-20, 21-18.

Women's singles: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Juliane Schenk (Ger) 22-20, 21-14.

Women's doubles: Miyuki Maeda-Satoko Suetsuna (Jpn) bt Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 12-21, 23-21, 21-18.

Mixed doubles: Ahmad Tantowi- Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt Ko Sung-hyun-Kim Ha-an (Kor) 21-16, 21-13.

Clay king Nadal wins record eighth title in Barcelona

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 04:38 PM PDT

BARCELONA: Rafael Nadal extended his record number of Barcelona titles to eight as he brushed off a slow start to beat Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3 yesterday.

Last weekend's Monte Carlo runner-up regained his accustomed position on an ATP winner's podium with his fourth title of 2013 and his third on clay for the year.

He rallied from two breaks down on a day of drizzle and heavy conditions, beating Almagro for the tenth time without defeat.

"It was a fantastic match for me," Nadal told a crowd which had huddled under umbrellas for the duration of the contest.

"Thanks to the people who watched us."

The world No. 5 has made a storming comeback to tennis after missing seven months from last summer with knee injuries.

Since his February return, he has played finals in all six events he has entered.

Nadal went into recovery mode after trailing Almagro 0-3 in less than a quarter hour on the heavy court.

But as quickly as he had temporarily let his guard down, Nadal was able to muster his resources to fight back.

He claimed an epic ninth game for a 5-4 lead before serving out the opening set a game later as Almagro couldn't reach a forehand to the corner.

The second seed sped away with the second set in the testing conditions and finished off the victory with an overhead smash.

"I'm used to losing to Rafa," said Almagro.

"But matches like this are what makes you a better player.

"I started well but after it really started to rain the balls got heavy and Rafa found his game in the conditions."

Nadal becomes the first man this season to win four ATP titles, adding Barcelona to those he lifted in Brazil, Mexico and California.

The 26-year-old who is rediscovering the form that habitually makes him the favourite when the French Open comes around in May.

This victory took his Barcelona win streak to 39 matches.

In clay finals, the impeccable Spaniard has lost only to Djokovic (three times), Roger Federer (twice) and Horacio Zeballos (once). He now stands 40-1 in Barcelona.

The win was the second of the season for Nadal over Almagro after beating his countryman in the Acapulco semi-final.

Nadal will now prepare for another home event, the Madrid Masters, beginning next weekend. — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Maverick operator Digicel takes on the big boys in Myanmar

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 06:54 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: Cellular operator Digicel Group Ltd jumped into Myanmar early and big, hiring staff, funding local sports, negotiating land deals for thousands of cell tower sites and signing up hundreds of partners for retail outlets.

The strategy helped propel it onto the shortlist for a mobile license in one of the world's last mobile frontiers, putting an operator that ranks 65th globally in terms of customers up against giants such as Vodafone Group Plc.

Whether its strategy pays off or not, industry insiders say, Digicel, largely unknown outside the Caribbean and some Pacific islands, has shaken up a usually conservative industry.

"They have been a disruptive force," said Roger Barlow, a Hong Kong-based telecommunications consultant who has worked in Asia for more than 25 years. "Some of the big guys tend to look down their noses at them but they shouldn't because they're becoming a credible player."

Myanmar this month short-listed 12 consortia for two licenses it plans to grant foreign operators in late June. The government wants to expand mobile penetration from less than 4 percent to up to 80 percent by 2015-16.

While Digicel is up against behemoths such as Vodafone, China Mobile Ltd and Telenor ASA, several other big players failed to make the list - among them South Korea's SK Telecom Co Ltd and Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding SAE.

It's a vindication of sorts for Digicel's long-term approach. Business development director Frank O'Carroll led the charge into Myanmar in 2009. In early 2012 he persuaded the company to commit funds to build a local brand and prepare the ground so that if it did get the go-ahead it could roll out a service in a matter of months.

That entailed deploying hundreds of workers across the country to negotiate thousands of leases for base station sites, months before the government had even begun the tender process.

"There's not one square inch of the country we haven't been in," O'Carroll said in an interview in Singapore.

Its sponsorship of the national football federation has built brand awareness - of sorts. Lots of locals have heard of Digicel, O'Carroll said, though at least initially they were as likely to think it's a brand of battery as a cellphone operator.

It's a strategy, he said, that Digicel has been pursuing in much smaller markets for more than a decade.

"What we are doing in Myanmar is not unique to Myanmar," said O'Carroll. "The first country that Digicel as a company looked to get a license was Trinidad and Tobago. We did very the same thing. We were there, we leased the land, we rented local offices, we started a local team, sponsored big sports."


Digicel has since set up shop in 31 markets, gaining 13 million customers. While none boasts a population above 10 million people, the company has taken on some major rivals, including America Movil SAB, Vodafone, Telefonica and Cable & Wireless.

"I don't think there's any fantastic science to it, but I do think it's our ability to move fast because we're small, we don't have this complex machinery that takes months and months to make decisions," said Vanessa Slowey, Singapore-based CEO of Digicel Asia Pacific, in an interview.

Making those decisions is Digicel owner Denis O'Brien, an Irish billionaire who first focused on small markets in the Caribbean after noticing that spectrum was being auctioned off in Jamaica. Eventually the Pacific beckoned.

Telecoms executive David Borrill recalls meeting O'Brien in his office after three years working for the incumbent operator in Samoa. "He went straight over to his library and opened the biggest atlas he had, turned to the Pacific and said, 'Tell me about this, where would you put an office here?'"

A few weeks later Borrill was back in Samoa, this time working for Digicel. The company bought out Telecom New Zealand's stake in the incumbent operator in 2006, and within six months had more than doubled its customer base.

Last financial year the company reported revenue of $2.5 billion, year-on-year growth of 14 percent and EBITDA of $1.08 billion, up 13 percent. It has 87 percent market share in Haiti, at least 75 percent in Jamaica and 92 percent of Papua New Guinea, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"Digicel is very astute in selecting the markets it enters," said John Hibbard, an Australia-based telecoms consultant. "It has to be convinced it will win a reasonable market share."

When it isn't, it's prepared to abort. In East Timor, for example, Digicel went so far as building cell towers, and assured the government that if granted a license it could cover more than 90 percent of the population within four months.

But, Digicel said, the government dragged its feet and ignored advice to issue only one license. So when it did eventually win one of the two on offer last year, Digicel turned it down. "Why would we invest $50 million to compete with two other operators, for the 40 percent that is left? It's crazy. So we handed our license back," said O'Carroll.

Digicel sold its assets to the other licensee Telin, a unit of Indonesia's PT Telkom. The company broke even on its Timor investment, said Digicel's Slowey, without giving details.

Such an approach is at odds with the industry's more conservative approach, where investment decisions must be highly rational and based on certain outcomes.

"Digicel doesn't have the institutional memory of other telcos," said Rob Bratby, a Singapore-based telecoms lawyer with Olswang LLP. "It's an example of a company with a different mental framework."


Digicel, however, has not had a free ride in Myanmar. The government turned down its proposal in 2012 to set up a joint venture with the incumbent operator, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, in favor of an open tender.

That has meant facing the diplomatic and financial muscle of some of the world's biggest and best-connected operators, prompting Digicel to take on its own partners: Yoma Strategic Holdings, owned by Serge Pun, a powerful businessman who, unlike many tycoons in Myanmar, isn't entangled in Western sanctions. The other member of the consortium: Quantum Strategic Partners, owned by financier George Soros.

The Soros-funded Open Society Foundations have long worked with exiles, refugees and dissidents, according to its website. Last year Soros said he would set up an office in Yangon.

Digicel shrugs off criticism that it lacks the experience of working in big markets like Myanmar, arguing that it's harder to work in lots of countries, whatever their size. Among the shortlistees, only France Telecom SA matches Digicel in the number of markets covered.

"Whether it's the smallest country in the world you deploy in or the largest, it's still the same building blocks, still the same issues that you must go through," said O'Carroll. "A lot of those same things, whether it's Nauru's 9,000 people or Myanmar's 60 million, we think are going to be identical." - Reuters

All Nippon Airways resumes flying Boeing’s Dreamliner

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 06:50 PM PDT

TOKYO: All Nippon Airways, the Japanese launch customer for Boeing Co's 787, has flown its first Dreamliner in more than three months to test reinforced batteries installed by the US aircraft maker.

The ANA flight yesterday was the second by an airline since aviation regulators on Friday gave permission for 787 operations to restart after batteries on two of them overheated in mid-January. One was on an ANA plane in Japan and another on a Japan Airlines jet parked at Boston's Logan airport.

Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday became the world's first carrier to resume flying Dreamliner passenger jets since the global fleet was grounded three months ago, carrying passengers to neighboring Kenya from Ethiopia.

The ANA flight, with company president Shinichiro Ito and Boeing's chief of commercial aircraft, Ray Conner, among those on board, left Tokyo's Haneda airport at 8.59am local time. It returned without incident at 10.54am, a spokesman for the airline said.

ANA plans at least 230 test flights through May before resuming commercial operations. In addition to the battery fix approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau has requested its airlines monitor the battery current while the jet is in the air and inspect used batteries.

ANA owns 17 of the 50 Dreamliners, which have been grounded since mid-January, while local rival JAL has seven of the carbon composite aircraft in its fleet.

JAL will start test flying its Dreamliners early next month with the aim of returning to normal operation in June.

Neither Japanese carrier, which on Tuesday will release their earnings results for the three months that ended March 31, have said how much the 787 grounding has cost them in lost revenue. - Reuters

Daibochi still rated an ‘outperform’

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 06:46 PM PDT


By CIMB Research

Outperform (maintained)

Target Price: RM3.68

NET profit-wise, first quarter 2013 was a record quarter for Daibochi.

Annualised first quarter 2013 net profit, forming 101% of our financial year 2013 forecast, was in line with market and our expectations.

We continue to like its defensive industry, with long-term growth anticipated for its food and beverage export market.

We maintain our earnings per share forecasts and "outperform" rating.

Our price to earnings valuation is re-rated upwards to the target market price to earnings of 13.5 times (previously at a 20% discount) in view of better earnings growth prospects over the next few months after the sharp decline in oil prices over the past three weeks.

Three-year earnings per share compounded annual growth rate is 14.2% compared to the market's 9%.

Dividend yield remains attractive at 5%.

Higher-than expected export orders and further declines in raw material costs could catalyse the stock.

First quarter 2013 revenue was up 6.7% due to higher sales volume. However, first quarter 2013 net profit was up a whopping 36.5%, mainly due to lower raw material costs, a better product mix and stronger waste management controls during the quarter.

First quarter 2013 dividend per share of 4 sen was in line with our expectation.

Daibochi's long-term earnings growth is expected to come mainly from the food and beverage export markets in Asean and also in Australia. Even though its non-food and beverage business is still small now, we expect the company to make further inroads into the medical glove, tobacco and electric and electronic segments in 2013.

Raw materials comprise 75% of Daibochi's operating costs. These materials include polyester and polyethylene films. As these materials are mainly derivatives of crude oil, their prices track crude oil prices quite closely. Crude oil prices fell as much as 13% over the past three weeks. Further declines in oil prices will be positive for the company.

Daibochi's profit margin usually benefits from sharp declines in raw material prices. PETRONAS CHEMICALS GROUP BHD

By HwangDBS Vickers Rsearch

Hold (maintain)

Target price: RM5.90

PETRONAS Chemicals Group Bhd (PChem) announced that its joint venture (JV), BASF Petronas Chemicals (PChem: 40%, BASF:60%) intends to invest US$500mil (about RM1.5bil) in an integrated aroma ingredients project at its existing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

The integrated aroma chemicals complex will tap into the flavours, fragrance and pharmaceuticals markets, offering aroma ingredients such as citral, citronellol, L-menthol, which are widely used in these industries. Production will be developed over several phases and the first plants are expected to be operational by 2016.

We are positive on the expansion as the new plant will enable PChem to leverage on BASF's globally-renowned expertise in aroma ingredients. PChem will invest RM600mil based on its 40% stake in the JV, which could be easily funded via its RM9.3bil net cash position.

The investment underlines BASF commitment to its existing relationship with PChem despite pulling out from Petronas' Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang early this year.

There is no change to our earnings forecast given the long gestation period for the project which is still subject to the JV's board final investment decision approval by end-2013. We maintain our "hold" rating with RM5.90 target price pegged to 13 times financial year 2013 earnings per share.

There is unlikely to be any near term catalyst for PChem given the weak external demand. Muted capacity growth over the next two years will make its earnings susceptible to volatile oil prices, despite healthy margins from favourable feedstock costs.


By Affin Investment Bank

Add (maintain)

Target Price: RM6.55

TWO new hospitals, KPJ Pasir Gudang and KPJ Sabah, are on track to commence operations in second quarter (2Q) 2013.

The two hospitals are built with a total bed capacity of 120 beds and 250 beds, respectively.

However, KPJ Pasir Gudang will only start operating with 60 beds initially while KPJ Sabah will start with 80 beds. Both hospitals are part of the group's program in riding on the country's medical tourism potential as underpinned by the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) strategic thrust.

KPJ Klang is the first greenfield hospital under the ETP medical tourism initiatives to commence operation in May 2012 with an initial capacity of 90 beds.

While revenue contribution from the medical tourism segment is still small (less than 5% in financial year ended Dec 31, 2012), KPJ has taken various steps to enhance its knowledge and penetration in the segment, including collaborations with hospitals within Asean region for the services of doctors, promoting its services and employing agents to bring in patients.

Under the ETP, the government targets to attract up to one million health travellers by 2020.

Given KPJ's existing expansion coupled with its recent proposed acquisition of Rawang Specialist Hospital, the group will soon be operating 23 hospitals in Malaysia. This will take the group's total number of hospitals to 25, including its two hospitals in Jakarta.

The Rawang Specialist Hospital will cost the group RM50.6mil, which will be internally funded. This hospital, which has the license to operate 159 beds will be the only multi-discipline specialist hospital within Rawang and its surrounding proximity, and is expected to commence operation in second-half 2013.

While KPJ is open to merger and acquisition activities (M&As), its main strategy is still to grow the group organically.

With the proposed acquisition, we have rasied our capital expenditure (capex) assumption to RM250mil in financial year ending Dec 31, 2013 (from RM200mil previously). With a strong assets expansion in the pipeline, we gather that the group will require a capex of up to RM1bil over the next four years.

We expect KPJ to likely raise funds for the expansions either via bank borrowings or issuance of bonds riding on the competitive rates.

Group's gearing level remains low at 0.3 times currently, indicating that it has room to gear up for expansions. Despite a relatively massive annual capex of RM200mil to

RM250mil, we expect KPJ to generate positive free cash flow of about RM100mil a year. As such, we believe KPJ is able to maintain its dividend payout ratio of about 50% which translates into a net yield of circa 2%.


By Maybank IB Research

Buy (Upgraded)

Target Price: RM6.10 (from RM5.60)

WE are upgrading IJM Corp to "buy".

The crystalisation of major construction job wins by the end of this year, record-high property sales, strategic property landbanks with high capital appreciation potential and an expansion at its Kuantan Port are not fully reflected in IJM Corp's share price, in our view.

We fine-tune our earnings forecasts post housekeeping, and raise our realisable net asset value-based target price by 9% to RM6.10.

Current valuations, at 13.2 times calendar year 2014 (CY14) earnings, are below its long-term mean of 14 times. Our new target price implies a CY14 price-earnings ratio (PER) of 14.7 times.

Having inked the West Coast Expressway (WCE) concession in Jan 2013, the next milestone is to achieve financial close in nine months' time, after which construction can begin.

The announced project value is RM6bil; we estimate the construction value is over RM5bil.

Elsewhere, Kuantan Port's new deepwater terminal offers sizeable works worth a few billion ringgit.

These two contracts, if secured in full by IJM Corp's construction division, will substantially replenish its current outstanding order book of about RM2.8bil.

IJM Land's new property sales of RM1.8bil in financial year ended March 31, 2013 (FY3/13) were the highest ever, up 33% year-on-year (y-o-y).

Its internal sales target for FY3/14 is at least RM2bil, to be supported by maiden launches at new developments Bandar Rimbayu, Pantai Sentral Park and PARC3 @ Jln Raja Laut, all in the Central region.

The commercial precinct (Phase 2) of The Light in Penang will be launched post reclamation works (ending soon), and offers potential gross development value (GDV) of RM5bil.

IJM Land has a sizeable undeveloped landbank of 6,200 acres with a GDV potential of RM38bil.

Kuantan Port's expansion will come with a new deepwater terminal, an extension to its concession period, about 700 acres of new industrial land and a new Chinese shareholder (Guangxi, 40%).

The port's handling capacity will double, supported by new throughput volumes with Guangxi to introduce investors for a steel mill, aluminium processing and edible oil processing plants.

We view this positively despite IJM Corp's selldown of its stake to 60%.

The port's 19% FY3/09-12 throughput compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) is testimony to its growing prominence.

Its outstanding construction order book is RM2.8bil. We estimate that this will take the group through to FY3/16.

Of the RM2.8bil, we believe that the single largest contract outstanding is the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit- Sungai Buloh Kajang package V5 (Maluri to Plaza Phoenix) worth RM75mil secured in Jan 2013 and targeted for completion in Jun 2016. Elsewhere, works on the Besraya Expressway extension (RM600mil), Seremban-Gemas (km461-500) double-track rail (RM343mil) and Pahang-Selangor raw water transfer (RM161mil) are moving towards completion.

We expect West Coast Expressway construction to start by end-2013 at the latest, after the project achieves financial close in Sep 2013.

IJM Corp has a direct 20% stake in the concession and another 18.2% via its 22.7% holding in Kumpulan Europlus Bhd.

The announced project cost is RM6bil and the construction period is five years.

We estimate the value of construction works at over RM5bil, with interest cost during construction to make up the balance of the RM6bil project cost.

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GE13: More than 200 ex-PKR members pledge support for BN in Kota Raja

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 09:35 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: More than 200 former Pakatan Rakyat members pledged their support for Barisan Nasional at an event organised at the Kota Raja parliamentary constituency.

Their representatives symbolically received a Barisan T-shirt each from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the event dubbed Showcase 1Malaysia With The PM.

Several hundred people gathered at the Desa Latnia at Section 36 here Sunday night to meet and greet Najib.

The event was attended by Barisan Nasional candidates for the Kota Raja parliamentary seat as well as the Sri Andalas and Sri Muda state constituencies.

In spite of the soggy field, due to an earlier downpour, the crowd gathered there to enjoy a stage show featuring local artistes such as Nash and Effa Raziah while waiting for Najib who had stopped at Pandamaran earlier.

In his speech, Najib, who arrived at about 11.00pm, told the crowd that Barisan had to regain control of Selangor because it was a developed and prosperous state.

"The state was developed by Barisan Nasional," said Najib adding that the Pakatan Rakyat state had not done anything to develop the state further.

He added that the state's water woes would be sorted out if Barisan took over the state as the current obstacles would be sorted out with negotiations between the state and Federal governments.

Najib also said that he could see the support for Barisan as he visited the constituencies in Selangor.

"Now wherever I go people smile more at me and some shake my hands and don't want to let go.

"Why? Because people are ready for change," said Najib.

He told the people that he needed a strong mandate to continue being the nation's prime minister.

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

GE13: Najib urges voters to return BN to Selangor and get more development

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 08:32 AM PDT

KLANG: Prime Minsiter Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak stopped by in Pandamaran Jaya, which is in the Port Klang state constituency, to help shore up support for Barisan Nasional.

He told the thousands present at the programme that the federal government had spent RM160mil to build a culvert and other related-infrastructure in the area.

He called on the people to return Barisan to power in Selangor to speed up development in the state.

"The people of Selangor have experimented for five years. But (Mentri Besar) Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said five years is not enough and wants another five years.

"They said the first year was for planning and the second year for implementation. But there was no achievements in the third year, nor the fourth or fifth year.

"Enough is enough. It is time for change," he said.

Also present at the function were Barisan candidates Datuk Teh Kim Poo (Klang), Datuk Nasaruddin M. Zin (Port Klang), Datuk Ching Eu Boon (Pandamaran) and Datuk Maglin D'cruz (Kota Alam Shah).

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

Water supply disruption for 12,000 households in Gombak

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 08:25 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 12,000 consumer accounts in the Gombak region experienced unscheduled water supply disruption following a failure at the Wangsa Maju pump house system when one of the four pumps broke down on Saturday.

Assistant general manager of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) Priscilla Alfred said in a statement Sunday that usually the four pumps would operate to supply water to the consumers following the high demand in the Kuala Lumpur and Gombak regions.

Among the areas that faced supply disruptions were AU1, AU2, AU3, AU4, AU5, Taman Sri Keramat, Keramat, Desa Setapak, Wangsa Melawati, Taman Sri Rampai, Taman Permata, Tasik Tambahan, Taman Ampang Campuran and Ampang Tasik Permai.

Syabas expected the water supply to all the affected areas to be resumed in stages until Monday night depending on the capability of the system at the Wangsa Maju Pump House.

Customers requiring assistance can call the Customer Service Centre (PUSPEL) at the toll-free line 1-800-88-5252.

Up to noon Sunday, Syabas received 412 complaints about the lack of water and 67 complaints on low water pressure in the Gombak region. - Bernama

Related Stories:
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Tony Pua wins appeal against Syabas defamation suit (Updated)
RM120mil allocation to Syabas is not a bailout, says SPAN chief
Syabas merely seeking approval'
Water war spills onto Selangor streets
Selangor wants details of how Syabas will spend RM120mil allocation
Govt allocates a further RM120mil to Syabas to ease Selangor water woes
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Syabas: Water supply crisis in KL and Gombak over

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Bollywood celebrates 100th birthday

Posted: 28 Apr 2013 12:23 AM PDT

MUMBAI: One hundred years after the screening of a black-and-white silent film, India's brash, song-and-dance-laden Bollywood film industry celebrates its centenary later this week.

The milestone will be marked with the release of "Bombay Talkies", made up of short commemorative films by four leading directors, while India will be honoured as "guest country" at next month's Cannes festival.

Exhibitions in the capital New Delhi are showcasing a century of cinema, including onscreen kissing scenes that originally fell foul of the censors.

It is also a time for reflection on how the industry has evolved, from its early screen adaptations of Hindu mythology to the garish romantic escapism of modern blockbusters.

Commercially, cinema is thriving: India produced almost 1,500 movies last year and the industry is expected to grow from $2 billion to $3.6 billion in the next five years, according to consultancy KPMG.

Leading the way is Hindi-language Bollywood, which took the "B" from its home in Bombay and won the hearts of movie-mad Indians.

But old-timers complain that it has become superficial, neglecting to deal with pressing social concerns of the age.

"There's a dumbing down that has taken place in the content. I think we are suffering from what is called the narrative crisis," said veteran director and producer Mahesh Bhatt.

He contrasts modern filmmakers with Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, known as the "father of Indian cinema", who brought the first all-Indian feature film to the silver screen in Bombay (now Mumbai) on May 3, 1913.

A tale from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, "Raja Harishchandra" quickly became a hit despite its female characters being played by men - women acting was still widely frowned upon.

Phalke made more than 100 films until his silent style fell victim to "talkies" in the 1930s, but the advent of sound technology allowed India cinema to flourish.

Bollywood plotlines today can involve stars breaking into song, often in picturesque far-flung locations, apropos of nothing - a style that may bemuse a Western audience, but one that helps to set Indian cinema apart.

"If it was exactly the same thing as Hollywood, Hollywood would have run us over. We don't have that money," said film critic Anupama Chopra.

For her and many others the "golden age" of cinema was the 1950s, when movie greats emerged such as Satyajit Ray, India's most renowned filmmaker, who hailed from the alternative film hub of West Bengal.

It was the era of newly independent India, searching for an identity and producing films such as Mehboob Khan's 1957 hit "Mother India", which combined social concerns with popular appeal.

The 1970s and 80s saw a growing commercialism with the rise of the "masala" movie - a family entertainer that typically mixed up romance and action, songs and melodrama, a comedy touch and a happy ending.

Parallel Cinema continued to focus on realism, with films such as Mahesh Bhatt's "Arth" (Meaning) in 1982, a gritty tale of an extramarital affair that presented strong female characters.

It was a path-breaker in a decade described as the "dark ages" of Hindi cinema, which struggled with the advent of colour television, rampant piracy and dependence on the Mumbai underworld for funding.

Things improved after India's economy opened up in the early 1990s, and again a decade later when filmmaking won formal "industry" status. Both steps encouraged foreign firms, such as Fox and Disney, to invest in Bollywood.

But subsequent leaps in technology have not been matched by advances in storytelling, say critics, who lament the formulaic plots, passive roles for women and the copying of Hollywood.

Bollywood's escapist fantasies have long held mass appeal because "there's enough realism in the common man's life", said Bhatt.

But with ever more TV shows, the Internet and easily available global films, such movies may no longer meet the demands of the educated middle-class.

This expanding group "wants to see something better than trash which caters to the common man who drives auto-rickshaws. They want to see a different kind of cinema," said veteran actor Rishi Kapoor.

A new crop of experimental filmmakers has started to appear, such as "Hindi indie" darling Anurag Kashyap who is a fixture on the global film festival circuit.

Trade analysts say the growth in multiplex cinemas has also encouraged mainstream films to diversify: a surprise hit last year was "Vicky Donor", a romcom about sperm donation.

Raj Nidimoru is co-director of upcoming "Go Goa Gone", one of India's first zombie films, and he believes the move away from staple Bollywood is only just beginning.

"This is just a ripple right now, it's going to become a wave." - AFP

Bollywood's movie milestones

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 10:24 PM PDT

MUMBAI: Bollywood is completing a century of movies, which began in 1913 with the first all-Indian feature film "Raja (King) Harishchandra", a silent, black-and-white story of a virtuous king from Hindu mythology. As women acting was taboo, young men took on the female roles.

Here are six other Hindi hits that have been landmarks for the industry:

"Alam Ara" (Light of the World) - 1931

India's first "talkie", this also included the first song in Indian cinema, recorded live as there was not yet playback recording. The last remaining print of the film was destroyed in a fire in 2003.

A love story between a prince and a gypsy girl inspired by America musical "Show Boat", the film was hugely successful. Newspaper reports said police were called in to control cinema crowds.

"Mother India" - 1957

Mehboob Khan's blockbuster depicted the resilience of an Indian woman, while echoing fervent nationalism in the aftermath of India's independence from British rule.

Top star Nargis plays a self-sacrificing mother who raises two sons in a poor village, ultimately gunning one of them down to uphold the community's honour. For one famous sequence, a farmer agreed to flood his own land.

It was the first of just three Indian films nominated for an Oscar in the foreign-language category, which none of them won.

"Mughal-e-Azam" (The Greatest of the Mughals) - 1960

Director K. Asif's period epic still ranks amongst Bollywood's highest grossers, starring the legendary Dilip Kumar as a Mughal prince who falls in love with a court dancer, played by his one-time lover Madhubala.

Noted for lavish, palatial sets and an immortal soundtrack, it was the costliest Indian film of its time and took 15 years to make, running into production and financial trouble during India's independence struggle.

"Sholay" (Embers) - 1975

India's first "curry" western and one of its most-loved hits, Sholay combined songs, romance, tragedy and violence.

Influenced by "The Magnificent Seven", it tells a tale of two crooks who help a policeman gain revenge on a notorious gangster for crippling him and killing his family.

Badlands in southern India where the film was made are still a tourist attraction.

"Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Braveheart will get the Bride) - 1995

This is the longest-running movie in an Indian cinema, still showing on a big screen in Mumbai 18 years after its release. Produced by Yash Chopra, known for his picturesque romantic hits, it was partly shot in Switzerland - now a popular destination for well-heeled Indians thanks to its role as a Bollywood backdrop.

The film also cemented actor Shah Rukh Khan's position as one of India's biggest superstars.

"3 Idiots" - 2009

Bollywood's highest-grossing movie worldwide, this screwball campus-comedy departed from other mainstream "masala" movies, questioning India's education system and student suicides.

Superstar Aamir Khan took the lead, riding on the success of six previous blockbusters including his Oscar-nominated "Lagaan" (Land Tax) of 2001.

Finding success in China and Hong Kong, "3 Idiots" is set to be remade in Cantonese by filmmaker Stephen Chow, with talks also on for US and Italian versions. - AFP

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