Isnin, 6 Mei 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Three women missing for about a decade found alive in Cleveland home

Posted: 06 May 2013 08:50 PM PDT

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Three Ohio women believed abducted separately about a decade ago were found alive on Monday at a Cleveland house near where they were last seen, and three brothers were arrested as suspects in their disappearances, police said.

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in a combination image. REUTERS/FBI

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in a combination image. REUTERS/FBI

Police said they were alerted to the whereabouts of the women by a frantic emergency call from Amanda Berry, who was freed from the house by a neighbour who said he heard screaming and came to her assistance.

"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry. ... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now," Berry, 26, is heard frantically telling a 911 operator in a recording of the call released by police and posted on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

During the call, she gave the name of her alleged abductor, said he was "out of the house" and urged police to come quickly. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.

The neighbour, Charles Ramsey, said in an interview broadcast by CNN that when he arrived, Berry appeared desperate to get through the door, which did not open properly.

"I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside," he said, adding that he was astonished when she identified herself.

"Then I realized I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry. I thought that girl was dead," he said. He said Berry had emerged from the house "with a little girl."

The two women found with Berry were identified by authorities as Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished in 2004 at age 14, and Michelle Knight, who was reported to have been 20 when she disappeared more than a decade ago.

All three women were taken to a local hospital, MetroHealth Medical Centre, where Dr Gerald Maloney told a news conference they were all "safe" and "appear to be in fair condition."

"This isn't the ending we usually have to these stories, so we're very happy. We're very happy for them," Maloney said.

He declined to comment on unconfirmed media reports that two children were found with the three women at the house.

The suspects, ages 50, 52 and 54, were arrested based on information given to investigators by the three women after their rescue, according to Deputy Cleveland Police Chief Ed Tomba, who said the women had probably been held in that house since they vanished.

One of the men was identified earlier as Ariel Castro, 52, a bus driver for Cleveland public schools.


Crowds on the street where the women were found cheered as police cars drove into the cordoned-off area around the house.

Berry was last seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant to go home on the day before her 17th birthday.

City Councilwoman Dona Brady, a friend of the family, told Reuters that Berry's grief-stricken mother had died at age 47, essentially from a broken heart.

A cousin of DeJesus, Sheila Figaro, told CNN that the girl's mother, Nancy, "never gave up faith knowing that her daughter would one day be found. What a phenomenal Mother's Day gift she gets this Mother's Day."

The suspects' uncle, Caesar Castro, who owns a grocery store on the same street, said Ariel Castro owned the house where the women were found. He added that members of his family and the family of DeJesus "grew up together."

"Everyone is shocked," said the elder Castro. He said he had known Ariel Castro to be "a good guy" and a musician who played the bass.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, "I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive."

"We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing," he added.

(Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Christopher Wilson and Mohammad Zargham)

Related Stories:
Three brothers arrested after three missing Ohio women found alive

Factbox - Some notorious abductions which victims survived

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

North Korea missiles moved away from launch site - U.S. officials

Posted: 06 May 2013 08:26 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has taken two Musudan missiles off launch-ready status and moved them from the country's east coast, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday, after weeks of concern that Pyongyang had been poised for a test-launch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch under the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA news agency May 6, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch under the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA news agency May 6, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea last month that it would be a "huge mistake" to fire the medium-range missiles. The prospects of a test had put Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on edge, especially following nearly two months of bellicosity from Pyongyang that included threats to attack South Korea and the United States.

The move to shift the missiles follows a reduction in rhetoric from Pyongyang.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missiles were still mobile and the fact they had been moved was no guarantee they would not be set up elsewhere and fired at some point.

"It is premature to celebrate it as good news," said another U.S. official, Daniel Russel, the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

However, a third U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States did not believe the missiles had gone to an alternate launch site and that they were now believed to be in a non-operational location.

The Musudan missiles have a range of 3,000 to 3,500 kilometres (1,900 to 2,200 miles). They have not been tested before.

In Seoul, South Korea's Defence Ministry declined to confirm any movement of the missiles, saying it was still tracking the North's missile activities, indicating it had yet to conclude Pyongyang had shelved plans for a launch from its east coast.

"We have said we'd be able to speak publicly when the North has completely withdrawn (the missiles)," said ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok.

In another sign North Korea is shifting its focus away from confrontation, its official media on Tuesday carried reports of leader Kim Jong-un giving "field guidance" on construction work done by the military. Similar reports were issued on Monday.

The North's official media normally suspends reporting on such activities by its leaders during periods of tension with the international community.

North Korea will likely feature during a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Guen-hye at the White House on Tuesday, where they will have a working lunch followed by a joint news conference.

The North has also remained in the spotlight after it sentenced a Korean American who visited the country last November to 15 years hard labour for what it said were crimes against the state.

Human rights activists in South Korea say Kenneth Bae may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children. A U.S. official said last week Washington was not looking for an envoy to try to secure the release of Bae, who was sentenced last Thursday.


Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the status of the North Korean missiles.

"I wouldn't again comment on intelligence. But what we have seen recently is a 'provocation pause.' And we think that's obviously beneficial to efforts to ensure we have peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Little told reporters.

The heightened tensions, including North Korean threats to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific, coincided with U.S.-South Korean military drills that Pyongyang had branded "a rehearsal for invasion." Those drills ended on April 30.

In a rare show of force during the drills, two nuclear-capable, bat-winged B-2 stealth bombers flew 37 1/2 hours from their U.S. base to drop dummy munitions on a South Korean range, and then returned home.

Asked what may have contributed to Pyongyang's latest move, Little noted various possibilities, including the fact that North Korea's previous cycles of provocation had ended after a period of time.

He also noted that the Chinese government had made some helpful statements.

"We do think they (China) probably - again I can't speak for them - they probably heard very loudly from us and from others the need to ratchet it back and lower the temperature," Little said.

The White House's Russel told reporters it was too early to determine whether North Korea's apparent move away from a launch was an encouraging development.

"It's premature to make a judgment about whether the North Koreans' provocation cycle is going up, down or zigzagging," he said. "The decision to launch or not launch missiles, to conduct a provocation or to stand down or defer it, is a decision that rests with the North Koreans."

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Jack Kim in Seoul. Editing by Dean Yates)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

China reports four more bird flu deaths, toll rises to 31

Posted: 06 May 2013 07:59 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Four more people in China have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing to 31 the number of deaths from the mysterious H7N9 virus, with the number of infections rising by two to 129, according to Chinese health authorities.

Among the deaths, two occurred in the eastern province of Jiangsu; one was from eastern Zhejiang; while another was from central Anhui, based on a Reuters analysis of the data provided by Chinese health authorities on Monday.

A janitor sprays disinfectant at empty chicken cages in a traditional market in New Taipei city April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

A janitor sprays disinfectant at empty chicken cages in a traditional market in New Taipei city April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The government did not provide more details of the victims.

Chinese health authorities said two new infections were reported in the eastern coastal province of Fujian. The virus, which was mostly concentrated in the region around the commercial capital of Shanghai, spread to Fujian in late April.

The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) has said it has no evidence that the new strain of bird flu, which was first detected in patients in China in March, is easily transmissible between humans.

Chinese scientists have confirmed that the H7N9 strain has been transmitted to humans from chickens. But the WHO has said 40 percent of people infected with H7N9 appear to have had no contact with poultry.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the current strain of bird flu cannot spark a pandemic in its current form - but he added that there is no guarantee it will not mutate and cause a serious pandemic.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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Rising star Stephens slams Serena as a sore loser

Posted: 06 May 2013 05:47 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Rising US star Sloane Stephens has slammed Serena Williams, describing her Fed Cup team-mate as a sore loser and saying she snubbed Stephens on Twitter after losing to her at the Aussie Open in January.

In excerpts from an interview with ESPN Magazine, Stephens said Williams has not spoken to her since the 20-year-old beat the 15-time major winner in the first Grand Slam of the year.

"People should know," Stephens said. "They think she's so friendly and she's so this and she's so that – no, that's not reality."

In the interview conducted last month, Stephens said she now gets the silent treatment from Williams in the locker room and through social media since their last WTA Tour match. The two were team-mates at a Fed Cup tie two weeks ago in Florida.

"She's not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia," Stephens told ESPN.

"And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.

"You don't unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?"

Stephens said two days following their quarter-final match in Australia, Williams posted a backhanded tweet on her social networking page.

"I made you," Williams wrote.

Said Stephens, "You really don't think I know that's about me."

Stephens also told a story of the time when she was 12 and watched Serena and her sister Venus play for the first time at a Fed Cup tie. She said she was left with a bad impression of the two after they ignored autograph requests.

"I waited all day (for an autograph)," she said in the May 13 edition of the magazine.

"They walked by three times and never signed our posters."

The Williams sisters and Stephens are three of just a few African Americans playing on the WTA Tour. Contrary to popular belief, Stephens said Williams was never her favourite player and certainly not a mentor as she has been portrayed.

The Williams sisters grew up in crime-plagued, drug-ridden Compton, California before moving to Florida, while Stephens is from Plantation, Florida.

"For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever," says Stephens.

"I really don't think it's that big of a deal that she's not involved now.

"If you mentor someone, that means you speak to them, that means you help them, that means you know about their life, that means you care about them.

"Are any of those things true at this moment? No." — AFP

Unheralded American Derek Ernst passes playoff test to win Wells Fargo

Posted: 06 May 2013 05:26 PM PDT

CHARLOTTE (North Carolina): Derek Ernst beat England's David Lynn in a playoff on Sunday to win his first US PGA Tour title at the Wells Fargo Championship after Phil Mickelson squandered a late lead.

Ernst, ranked outside the top 1,200 at the start of the week and in the field as the fourth alternate, birdied the 72nd hole of regulation to seize a share of the lead, then returned to the 18th for the first hole of the sudden-death playoff.

Lynn, who was also seeking a first US PGA Tour title, hit his drive into the rough along the bank of the stream left of the fairway. He found a greenside bunker with his second shot, while Ernst was on the fairway and landed his approach 15 feet from the pin.

Lynn's bunker shot flew the green and he chipped seven feet past.

Ernst's birdie putt lipped out, but his tap-in for par was enough for the victory that also brought him an invitation to next week's prestigious Players Championship.

The two finished four rounds at Quail Hollow on eight-under 280. In a rainy final round in which the tee times were brought forward to avoid the worst of expected inclement weather, both Ernst and Lynn had four birdies and two bogeys as both shot two-under 70.

"This feeling is unbelievable right now," said Ernst, a 22-year-old Californian playing just his ninth US PGA Tour event.

"Just at the beginning of the week not even knowing I was going to be in the field.

"I was fourth alternate last time I heard, and then a couple of people dropped out so I got in."

Ernst's four-foot birdie putt at the last hole of regulation was just one of four birdies at the 18th all day.

"Winning was not on my mind," he said of his mindset at the 72nd hole. "On 18, I had 190 something, I don't know. I hit a six-iron and choked up a little bit and hit a draw in there.

"I was trying to hit it as close as I possibly could, yeah. I knew Dave (Lynn) was at eight (under), so I didn't know what Phil was or where he was at.

"So I was just trying to get tied with David at eight."

Three-time Masters champion Mickelson, who shared the overnight lead with Nick Watney, arrived at the 16th hole with sole possession of the lead, but he bogeyed 16 and 17 and didn't even make the playoff.

His approach at 18 was in the back fringe and he missed a 19-foot birdie attempt that would have given him a share of the lead.

Mickelson finished with a 73 for third place on 281.

England's Lee Westwood and Sweden's Robert Karlsson both posted last-round 72s to share fourth on 282.

World number two Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who notched his breakthrough US PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow in 2010 and lost in a playoff last year, carded a second straight 73 to finish in a group sharing 10th place on four-under 284. — AFP

China still strong despite leaving out Lin Dan from Sudirman Cup

Posted: 06 May 2013 05:49 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: China have left out their mega star Lin Dan from the Sudirman Cup squad.

But they are still looking good to win the world mixed team event for a record ninth time when the 13th edition begins from May 19-26 at Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil.

The closing date for entries ended yesterday but it was learnt that China did not include their famed four-time world champion and two-time Olympic Games champion Lin Dan when they submitted their list to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

They, however, continued to show that they had faith on another of their aging senior stars – men's doubles four-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medallists Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng – by including them.

With China BA's surprise decision, it will be the first time that Lin Dan will not be in the mixed team event since helping them recapture the crown in 2005 at Beijing. He was also the lead player in the team who won three more crowns in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

China also won in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001 but lost to South Korea in 2003 at Eindhoven, Holland.

In Lin Dan's absence, China are set to use the services of one of their other three players – reigning All-England champion Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming – to win the points in the men's singles tie.

Top seed China have been drawn in Group A with Indonesia and India. In Group B are Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong while Group C consists of hosts Malaysia, Germany and Taiwan. In Group D are Denmark, Japan and Singapore.

Only the top two in each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The top four teams based on the latest world ranking will be seeded and a draw will be conducted to determine their last eight opponents.

For the record, with China's decision, the hope of seeing a re-match between Lin Dan and Malaysia's No 1 player Lee Chong Wei will not materialise during the Sudirman Cup. Fans are hoping that China will include Lin Dan for the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.

Lin Dan did not qualify but China can drop one of their players to accommodate their star player when the second phase of qualifiers is finalised by BWF next month.

Chong Wei and Lin Dan last met at the 2012 London Olympic Games final with the former going down fighting and, thus, failing in his bid to become Malaysia's first Olympic gold medallist.


The Star Online: Business

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MBIA, Bank of America reach US$1.6bil cash settlement

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:25 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Bank of America Corp has agreed to pay $1.6 billion (1 billion pounds) in cash to MBIA Inc and will receive the right to buy a 4.9 percent stake in the bond insurer to resolve long-running litigation, the companies said on Monday.

Bank of America will also remit $137 million worth of MBIA senior debt it acquired in December and provide MBIA with a $500 million credit line as part of the deal.

The accord will settle all of the two companies' disputes, including liability for MBIA as a counterparty in swap deals with Bank of America. Bank of America will take a charge against previously reported first-quarter earnings and its capital ratios will rise under Basel III as a result of the deal.

MBIA shares rose as much as 57 percent on the news. By the close, the shares were up 45 percent, at $14.29, while Bank of America shares closed up 5.2 percent at $12.88.

The settlement marks Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan's latest step to fix wide-ranging litigation related to the financial crisis and relieves investor fears that MBIA might face liquidation over the bank's claims.

In a statement, MBIA Chief Executive Jay Brown called the deal a "significant milestone" for the company, which is in the process of restructuring itself and risked running out of money within months if it had not settled the Bank of America dispute.

"I think Bank of America was able to put some pressure on and extract some clear leverage from the fact that MBIA looked to be on the brink," said attorney Don Hawthorne, a partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider who has represented clients in mortgage-backed securities litigation.

"It's probably a good deal all around," he added, reflecting that "MBIA obviously had a strong case and Bank of America had a strong negotiating position."

MBIA had long been in the sleepy business of guaranteeing municipal debt against default, but last decade it began guaranteeing riskier structured bonds, such as repackaged mortgage securities, in a bid to add revenue and profit.

That backfired as MBIA lost its top credit ratings and banks sought to hold it liable for losses after the housing bubble burst. Short sellers such as hedge fund manager William Ackman argued MBIA lacked capital to cover structured finance losses.

To survive, MBIA won approval in 2009 from New York's insurance regulator, now part of the state's Department of Financial Services, to split into a municipal bond insurer to underwrite new deals and a guarantor of structured finance products that would handle old claims.

But 18 banks objected, saying it would leave MBIA insolvent and unable to pay its mortgage-related claims.

Monday's settlement leaves Societe Generale as the only bank still in that case. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


In a statement, Benjamin Lawsky, New York's financial services superintendent, said the deal was reached after more than a year of negotiations. He called it "a very positive step forward for both Bank of America and MBIA."

The deal came together after MBIA's board hired Blackstone Group LP as an adviser, said a person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. A Blackstone spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their role.

MBIA's structured finance unit could have been forced into liquidation or rehabilitation had the Bank of America case continued, the insurer said on February 27. Brown said that month that there was a "significant risk" of a regulatory proceeding.

In 2011, the municipal bond guarantee business lent $1.1 billion to the structured finance unit to fund settlements with bond buyers, debt that over time grew to be $1.7 billion. But the company's regulator refused to allow the structured finance unit to borrow more.

MBIA will use proceeds from the Bank of America deal to repay that loan, which stood at $1.6 billion as of May 2, following a $110 million payment from a separate settlement with Flagstar Bancorp Inc.


As part of the accord, Bank of America will receive warrants to purchase 9.94 million shares of MBIA, or roughly 4.9 percent of its outstanding stock, at a price of $9.59 per share. The warrants can be exercised any time prior to May 2018.

Some investors saw Bank of America taking an equity stake as a sign of confidence in MBIA's future.

Bank of America will take a charge of $1.5 billion, or 10 cents per diluted share, after taxes related to the settlement, slicing its previously reported earnings per share in half. Accounting standards dictate that it take the charge against first-quarter earnings because it has not yet filed its 10-Q report, Bank of America said.

The bank's Tier 1 capital ratio under Basel III standards will rise by 10 basis points to 9.52 percent to reflect a reduction in risk-weighted assets related to the MBIA swaps being cancelled. Its tangible book value per common share will drop by 10 cents to $13.36.

The MBIA deal is just the latest settlement Bank of America has reached to resolve crisis-era litigation.

Last month, the bank reached a $500 million settlement with investors who claimed they were misled by its Countrywide unit into buying risky mortgage debt. The second-largest U.S. bank still faces litigation by the Federal Housing Finance Agency on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by insurer American International Group Inc.

Bank of America is also awaiting court approval of an $8.5 billion deal reached with investors in Countrywide mortgage-backed securities. A hearing is scheduled to begin May 30.

On Friday, the New York and Delaware attorneys general dropped their objections to the deal. AIG and other parties remain opposed.

"I don't think anyone's going to ever at this point declare victory," Bank of America Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson said on a conference call last month. "We're moving through in a pretty meaningful way this pipeline of items."

News of the Bank of America-MBIA settlement was first reported by Dow Jones. - Reuters


Maybank Research maintains Buy on Perisai, TP RM1.40

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:24 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank Investment Bank Research is maintaining a Buy on Perisai Petroleum with a target price of RM1.40, based on 11 times FY14 earnings per share.

The research house said on Tuesday that Perisai's Q1, 2013 results, to be released on Wednesday, were unlikely to spring any surprises.

"Overall, we expect a stronger H2, 2013 vis-vis H1, 2013 both operationally and financially, as activities pick up.

"We see upside to our forecasts (3-year net profit CAGR of 21%), for the earnings impact from its second rig has not been incorporated into our forecasts yet," it said.

Maybank Research expects Perisai's Q1, 2013 net profit to just about match its Q1, 2012 performance (RM23mil), making up 23% of its full year forecast.

The research house said earnings would be driven by the charter of MOPUs (61%), followed by its pipe-lay vessel E3 (28%) and the operation of eight OSV (11%). Its forecasts were unchanged.

It expected Perisai to secure its maiden jack-up rig contract by H2, 2013, before the delivery of its Pacific 101 jack-up rig by end-July 2014.

"Perisai should command prevailing market rates of about US$150,000 to US$170,000 a day for this rig.

"Meanwhile, we expect its 51%-owned FPSO to be deployed in Jul 2013. Perisai will likely dispose its pipe-lay vessel (E3) concurrently with the deployment of the FPSO," it added.


Electronic Arts, Disney strike "Star Wars" games deal

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:21 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday May 7, 2013 MYT 9:22:00 AM

SAN FRANCISCO: Electronic Arts and Walt Disney Co sealed a multi-year licensing deal under which the video game publisher will develop games for mobile devices, PCs and consoles based on the "Star Wars" movies.

Disney, which bought George Lucas's Lucasfilm Ltd and the blockbuster sci-fi franchise for $4.05 billion in October, will retain the rights to develop online and mobile games, both companies said in a statement on Monday.

They did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement.

EA bet big on the Star Wars' world of jedis and wookies in 2011 by releasing its "Star Wars: The Old Republic" - a massive multiplayer player online game, or MMO, that allows thousands of people to play simultaneously for a monthly subscription fee as opposed to a one-time purchase.

Analysts said EA made a record investment of between $100 million and $300 million to build "Star Wars: The Old Republic," but EA has not disclosed costs. It hired more than 1,000 voice actors for "Star Wars: The Old Republic," which broke a game industry record.

But the game has struggled to retain players, prompting the company to offer 15 game levels for free in June last year. And in November, it launched a free-to-play version of the game.

Disney, which has its own interactive games division, last month shut the 30-year-old LucasArts games studio it inherited with the acquisition to focus on licensing its "Star Wars" brand externally.

EA shares were up 2 percent at $18.67 and Disney's stock was up slightly at $65.17 in after-hours trading. - Reuters



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GE13: Kudos from Indonesia for a successful general election

Posted: 06 May 2013 07:46 AM PDT

JAKARTA: Indonesia has congratulated Malaysia on successfully conducting its general election, and expects further improvement of bilateral ties, Xinhua news agency reported Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa saying here Monday.

"We have to congratulate the people of Malaysia for holding the election successfully.

"All countries in the region were following the election that ended Sunday night," the minister said on the sidelines of his meeting with visiting Mozambique Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro Baloi in his office here.

He said the process of election in Malaysia would empower democracy architecture in the region as Malaysia was part of Asean, adding that the successful election in Malaysia has showed the improving democracy pillar in Asean.

"The development of Asean political community has been fantastic and exceptional," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

In Sunday's 13th general election, Barisan Nasional was returned to power when it won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the new federal government. - Bernama

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

GE13: EC - Record 85% turnout ; BN gets 46.5% of popular vote

Posted: 06 May 2013 07:46 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Out of the total number of 13,268,002 voters for the 222 parliamentary seats, 11,257,147 voters or 84.84% cast their votes at the 13th general election, the highest percentage in any general election in Malaysia.

Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said for the 505 state legislative assembly seats contested, 9,742,254 voters or 85.82% had exercised their right to vote in the election.

He said that based on the electoral roll gazetted for GE13, out of the 13,268,002 registered voters, there were 12,885,434 ordinary voters, 146,742 postal voters and 235,826 early voters.

"For the Parliamentary seats, Barisan Nasional garnered 5,237,699 votes; PKR, 2,254,328; PAS, 1,633,389; DAP, 1,736,267; Independent, 86,935; STAR, 45,386; Berjasa, 31,835; SWP, 15,630; SAPP, 10,099; PCM, 2,129; Kita, 623; and Bersama, 257.

"For the state legislative assembly seats, Barisan received 4,513,997 votes; PAS, 2,133,944; DAP, 1,442,298; PKR, 1,303,457; Independent, 67,129; STAR, 43,793; SAPP, 31,324; PSM, 8,136; Berjasa, 4,756; Kita, 1,791; Bersama, 823; and PCM, 216," he said in a statement here Monday.

Kamaruddin said that of the 579 candidates who contested the state assembly seats, 128 candidates lost their election deposits, with Independent candidates forming the largest number totalling 75 people.

For the election results, he said that out of the 222 Parliamentary seats, Barisan won 133 seats; PKR, 30; PAS, 21; and DAP, 38. For the state assembly seats, Barisan won 275 seats; DAP, 95; PAS, 86; and PKR, 49.

Generally, he said the EC was satisfied with the election process which went smoothly, without any undesired incidents affecting the election process.

"In implementing the general election, the EC always follows the law and tried to make the GE13 as the best, and numerous challenges which were unexpected had to be faced," he said.

He said the EC would study all the weaknesses especially on the method of overcoming congestion at the polling centres in the morning as well as the presence of a large number senior citizens there. - Bernama

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

GE13: Won't seek re-election as MCA president, says Soi Lek

Posted: 06 May 2013 07:05 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek will not be defending his presidency at the party elections this year.

This comes after the party only won seven parliamentary and 11 state seats out of the total 37 parliamentary and 90 state seats it contested in the general election.

Dr Chua pledged to stabilise the party under "this difficult condition".

"I will convene a presidential council and central committee meeting to deliberate on the direction of the party following the dismal results.

"At the same time, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in the upcoming party election," he said in a statement today.

He said MCA respected and accepted the voters' decision.

He said the party also supported prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's call for national reconciliation.

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


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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France honours Hong Kong film director

Posted: 06 May 2013 12:49 AM PDT

HONG KONG: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Sunday honoured Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, appointing him a Commander of France's Order of Arts and Letters.

The minister presented Wong with the medallion of the order at the French consul's residence in Hong Kong.

The decoration "has even more significance because it comes from France, the spiritual home of cinema where liberty, equality and freedom of expression and love are the main fundamentals", said the 56-year-old director, who has won numerous awards in France.

Wong won the Best Director award at the 1997 Cannes film festival for "Happy Together". He picked up a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar, in 2001 for "In the Mood for Love", a film which became a cult classic in France.

Wong also headed the jury at Cannes in 2006, the first Chinese director to do so.

His latest film "The Grandmasters", which has just been released in France, is based on the life of Ip Man, a martial arts master who trained actor Bruce Lee.

Fabius arrived Sunday in Hong Kong for a visit before leaving Tuesday for Japan.-AFP

'Iron Man 3' has second best box office debut in history

Posted: 05 May 2013 06:07 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Super-hero blockbuster sequel "Iron Man 3" smashed to the top at the US box office with a mega $175.3 million take - the second best opening weekend ever - industry estimates showed Sunday.

The film starring Robert Downey Jr as the title character now sits behind just "The Avengers" - another Walt Disney comic book superhero flick - which earned $207.4 million when it opened a year ago.

"'Iron Man 3' is definitely playing like a pseudo-sequel to last summer's mightiest flick, 'The Avengers,'" said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock.

It "may be the top movie of the summer, unless the 'Man of Steel'" - an updated take on the ever-popular Superman story set for release in June - "has anything to say about it.

The US opening of Iron Man 3 demolished the franchise's previous debuts, with $98 million for the first movie and $128 million for the sequel, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations.

In second place for this weekend's box office was action-comedy "Pain and Gain," starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, with $7.6 million in ticket sales, Exhibitor Relations said.

Not far behind was "42," a biopic about trailblazing black baseball star Jackie Robinson, which made $6.2 million

The fourth spot, with $5.8 million, went to "Oblivion," the post-apocalyptic action flick starring Tom Cruise, followed by "The Croods" - a stone-age cartoon - in fifth, with $4.2 million.

"The Big Wedding" - a star-studded comedy featuring Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton and Robin Williams - came in sixth place, taking in $3.9 million.

"Mud," a coming-of-age story starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, earned an estimated $2.2 million, for seventh place, the film's first week in the top ten after going into wide release a week earlier.

And in eighth, Walt Disney's 3D fantasy adventure flick "Oz the Great and Powerful" earned $1.8 million, for a nine-week total of $228.6 million.

"Scary Movie 5," the latest installment in the slasher-comedy franchise, took the ninth spot with $1.4 million.

Rounding out the top 10 at $1.3 million was "The Place Beyond the Pines," starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a drama about a motorcycle stunt rider who resorts to bank robbery to provide for his lover and their newborn child. -AFP


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UMW enrols 34 youngsters in its SL1M-UMW GEP programme

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:29 AM PDT

UMW Holdings Bhd announced recently that it had enrolled a batch of 34 young graduates into its 1Malaysia Training Scheme (SL1M) Graduate Enhancement Programme (GEP).

They are part of the third batch of participants under this programme.

The SL1M-UMW: GEP programme is an intensive programme devised to provide a fast-track scheme to Malaysian university graduates, equipping them with help consisting of soft skills training for six weeks and on-the-job training for 24 weeks.

UMW has been an avid supporter of this programme since it was mooted by the Prime Minister in 2011, under the Secretariat of the Economic Planning Unit.

In UMW, the programme is not only a strategic initiative in human capital development, but also a corporate responsibility initiative by the company to provide the GEP trainees with a platform to shape their careers and gain learning experience as well as exposure to business activities, products and services.

Under the programme, the UMW Group had successfully absorbed 36 graduates after training close to 80 potential candidates previously.

"I am happy to report that 100% of the second batch of SL1M participants has secured permanent jobs after completing the programme.

Sixteen participants have been absorbed by UMW, while 24 participants have spread their wings and have managed to find careers elsewhere", said UMW president and group CEO Datuk Syed Hisham Syed Wazir.

He added that he sincerely hoped the candidates would grab this opportunity and make their time worthwhile in UMW.

Syed Hisham together with Ministry of Finance Economic Planning Unit Human Capital Development Section director Dr. Mohd Gazali Abas was on-hand to present the Certificate of Participation to the second batch of graduates as well as welcoming the third batch of UMW-GEP participants.

Sentul athlete aims to break U-15 record at MSSM

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:29 AM PDT

KUALA Lumpur schools (MSSWPKL) athletics sportsboy recipient Syazwan Ahmad intends to break the boys' Under-15 high jump record at the upcoming national schools (MSSM) athletics championships in Kuantan, Pahang from May 18 to 23.

At the recent four-day MSSWPKL meet that concluded at the SMK Seri Permaisuri Mini Stadium in Cheras, the lanky Syazwan lived up to his billing as the favourite in the high jump in convincing style.

Syazwan not only improved on his previous personal best of 1.95m when he cleared 1.98m but has indicated that he is ready to soar in scaling greater heights at the MSSM.

Sarawak's Jonathan Tinggang is the current MSSM record holder with a 1.96m effort at last year's meet.

The 14-year-old Kuala Lumpur sports school student based in SMK Seri Titiwangsa said he was in good form as he went on to break his own MSSWPKL meet record of 1.78m set last year.

"I have attempted to go beyond 2m but failed to get over it recently.

"My coach, Hisham Mustaza Ibrahim, advised me to stop after 1.98m at the recent MSSWPKL.

"As part of the preparations for MSSM, it is important that I keep on gaining the right momentum to continue my encouraging progress.

"I do not want to jump the gun in peaking too early. I want to rise to the occasion at the MSSM.

"My immediate target is to raise the bar to 2.05m at the MSSM," he added.

At the previous MSSM, Syazwan won silver in the 200m hurdles with his best electric timing of 26.66s and also picked up a bronze medal with a 1.79m effort in the high jump of his age-group.

At the recent MSSWP championships, Syazwan also bagged another two gold medals from the 110m hurdles and 200m hurdles.

He clocked an electronic-timed 15.90s and 27.45s in the 110m hurdles and 200m hurdles, respectively.

"I am still feeling a slight discomfort in my right hamstring.

"The unpleasant condition has prevented me from going faster in both the hurdling events," said Syazwan, adding that he has set his sights on securing three gold medals from the individual events at the MSSM.

However, the Form Three student did not extend his spectacular individual performances to assist the Sentul zone in making a strong impression in the boys' Under-15 relay races at the MSSWPKL.

The Sentul quartet were disqualified when Syazwan received the baton outside the exchange area from the first runner in the 4x100m race.

"I am disappointed because I was responsible for the mistake.

"I misjudged my run and caused my team-mate to be in awkward position in delivering the baton.

"I was too eager and went out too early," admitted Syazwan, who stands at 1.82m.

Although the lanky lad intended to make amends when he anchored his side in the 4x400m relay, Syazwan ran out of steam and could not respond to the challenge when Provin Segaran produced a strong finish for Bangsar A to secure the victory in record-breaking fashion.

En route to victory, Bangsar A crossed the finish line in 3:37.63 to better the previous mark of 3:43.65 in the boys' Under-15 4x400m relay.


BOYS' - Under-12: Shaun Tham (Pudu)

- Under-15: Syazwan Ahmad (Sentul)

- Under-18: Teh Wai Keat (Bangsar) - Sports boy: Syazwan Ahmad (Sentul)


- Under-12: Lau Jing Ying (Pudu)

- Under-15: Zaimah Atifah Zainuddin (Bangsar)

- Under-18: Elena Goh Ling Ying (Keramat)

- Sports girl: Elena Goh Ling Ying (Keramat)


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GE13: Johoreans from all walks of life exercised their voting rights

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:32 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Voters here were eager to exercise their rights in GE13 with some waiting as early as 7am at all 910 voting centres statewide.

Despite some minor hiccups, polling in the state got off to a good start at 8am, especially with the good weather reported in the morning.

Among some of the problems encountered were the shortage of writing instruments and unstamped ballot papers.

State election commission director Rokiah Hanum Ibrahim said despite the minor glitches, the voter turnout was encouraging at 65%.

"We hope more voters will exercise their voting rights before the polling centres are closed at 5pm," she added.

A total of 1,580,185 voters are eligible to cast their votes in Johor today.

The state, which is regarded as Barisan Nasional's bastion, is expected to see a good fight with a total of 174 candidates contesting in 26 parliaments and 56 state seats.

Among the "hotspots" include Gelang Patah, Kulai, Segamat, Muar, Bakri, Pulai and Kluang.

The Gambir state seat is the only seat with a four cornered fight while there are a total of eight constituencies with three cornered fights.

On voters, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was among the early ones to arrive at Dawning Kindergarten in Batu Pahat to cast his votes at 8am.

Other VIPs to cast their votes include Deputy Umno president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman who turned up at SMK Sri Muar to cast their votes at 8.10am.

Permas Barisan candidate Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin voted at SMK Taman Molek at 9am while Johor Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is the candidate for Gelang Patah, and his family casted their votes at SK Abdullah in Sungai Mati at about 11am.

Johor DAP chief Dr boo Cheng Hau, who is defending his Skudai state seat, voted at SK Taman Universiti 2 at 10.40am.

GE13: Voters receive free balloons from special BN squad

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:32 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Voters who proudly showed their inked index fingers received free balloons from a special Barisan Nasional squad roving around the Pasir Gudang parliamentary area here.

Squad leader Ridzuan Yahya, 36, said that the balloons were meant to creat a festive environment and to reward those who came out to vote.

"We understand that it is difficult especially for parents with young children as children can be a handful.

"The queues are long and some have waited for more than an hour to vote so we thought that it would be nice to put a smile on their faces with some balloons," he said.

Ridzuan, who is from the Senibong Barisan branch here said that his team also ensured that they were parked quite a distance from the actual polling centre in accordance with the law.

"We don't want people to think that we are campaigning or trying to persuade anyone.

"In fact, we only hand out balloons to those who show us their ink stained finger," he said adding that the team hoped to hand out more than 2,000 balloons throughout the day.

Our team will be heading to other areas within Pasir Gudang including Permas Jaya, Taman Rinting and Taman Megah Ria.

Ridzuan said that his team had also handed out balloons during the last election and it was nice to see people smiling while carrying the balloons.

GE13: Handicap no deterrent to businesswoman

Posted: 06 May 2013 06:32 AM PDT

KULAIJAYA: Despite her handicap, Noralipah Ali was determined to exercise her voting rights for the first time.

The 29-year-old businesswoman, who was dressed for the occassion, casted her vote at the SMK Kulai Besar polling station here.

"I missed my chance to vote during the last election as I was ignorant to issues of the country.

"This time around being a mother of three, I worry for my children's future, and decided to vote," she said.

Noralipah, who owns a skincare product online-based business, came to exercise her rights with her husband.

"I lost my left leg in an accident when I was three and against all odds have survived and managed to do well for myself," she said adding that she has been using clutches for mobility.

Previously she used prosthetic limb to move around, but decided to give it up after getting pregnant with her first child in 2006.

She added that she wanted her children to obtain access to all the opportunities in life and felt that casting her vote would make a difference.

The part-time model also hoped that other eligible voters will not give excuses for not voting and see the importance in casting the votes. 

"I learnt that we can determine the future of our children's generation and all voters should understand the necessity of voting," she said.


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