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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'S.W.A.T.' actor Steve Forrest dead at age 87

Posted: 23 May 2013 08:55 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: U.S. actor Steve Forrest, who was best known for a leading role on the short-lived 1970s television drama "S.W.A.T.," has died at the age of 87 in Thousand Oaks, California, near Los Angeles, his wife Christine said on Thursday.

Forrest appeared in 1954's "Prisoner of War," which also featured Ronald Reagan, who was later elected U.S. president. In 1960's "Flaming Star," he played alongside Elvis Presley and Barbara Eden.

Forrest's older brother, Dana Andrews, was the star of 1940s films "Laura" and "The Best Years of Our Lives." Forrest died peacefully on May 18, his family said in a statement.

No cause of death was given. He gained a following as Lt. Hondo Harrelson on the ABC crime drama series "S.W.A.T.," which ran for 37 episodes from 1975 to 1976 and was produced by Hollywood titans Leonard Goldberg and Aaron Spelling.

Forrest made a guest appearances in the 2003 film adaptation of the series. The actor, who fought in the U.S. Army at the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two, got his big break when actor Gregory Peck saw him in a theater production in 1950, which led to a contract with film studio MGM.

Forrest also starred in the 1965 British TV spy thriller series "The Baron," which was one of the country's first color television programs.

He was born William Forrest Andrews on Sept. 25, 1925, in Huntsville, Texas. He was the youngest of 13 children. Forrest is survived by his wife, three sons and four grandchildren. -Reuters

Till death do us part

Posted: 24 May 2013 01:34 AM PDT

Two celebrities are put together to see if they can survive as a 'married couple' in the hit reality show We Got Married.

We Got Married (Uri Gyeolhon Haesseoyo in Korean) is a South Korean idol romance reality show that pairs up young Korean celebrities, notably from K-pop boybands and girl groups, to show how their lives would be like as married couples.

In the latest season, the producers of We Got Married decide to expand the series to include foreign celebrities. The We Got Married (Global Edition) features 2PM's Ok Taecyeon, 24, paired with Taiwanese artiste Emma Wu Ying Jie (nicknamed Gui Gui, formerly of girl group Hey Girl), 23, while FT Island's leader Lee Hongki, 23, is paired with Japanese actress and film critic Fujii Mina (The King Of Dramas), 24.

Each week, the two couples have to complete various missions, then reveal their thoughts and feelings about living together in a series of candid interviews. The couples try their best to communicate by conversing in a mix of English, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.

Well known for his playful nature, Hongki got to showcase his romantic side when paired with the gentle and elegant Mina. "I think my personality has been changing, and I'm becoming a better guy because I have been influenced by Mina's good heart," the frontman of rock band FT Island said in an e-mail interview. Hongki recently made his big screen debut in Passionate Goodbye as a rowdy pop idol who does community service at hospices.

Fans find the natural chemistry between Mina and Hongki endearing. Mina said she loves that Hongki has qualities she does not. "I tend to think a lot before I act whereas Hongki is free-spirited and spontaneous. Hence, there is a lot to learn from him. Getting to know him better on the show, I also saw his considerate, honest and warm side. And, he always looks so handsome when he sings," shared Mina, who recently surprised Hongki by showing up with a bouquet of flowers at the press conference to launch his debut film, Passionate Goodbye, which is set to be released in Korea on May 30.

Meanwhile Gui Gui tries to win over her partner Taecyeon with her mischievous antics. "We often played the rock-paper-scissors game! I tried to bully him all the time, but I always ended up being bullied. There were occasions when we used body language to communicate with each other, and it was a really interesting experience," shared the singer-actress.

Ever the gentleman, Taecyeon tried to tackle the communication and cultural gap by impressing Gui Gui with a variety of thoughtful gestures. "Emma is very cute and fun. I think we are very different, that's why it is fun to watch how we interact with each other on the show," said the dashing rapper who even introduced his "wife" to his friends to liven up the show.

How will Taecgui and Hongkimina (abbreviated couple names given by fans) fare as "married couples" on the show? Only time will tell. n We Got Married (Global Edition) airs on ONE HD (Astro B.yond Ch 393) every Friday at 8.40pm.

Fernandes does his first firing in Apprentice Asia

Posted: 23 May 2013 04:24 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Reality TV show The Apprentice Asia has taken off with one contestant being "fired" by AirAsia boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes after a premiere that saw two teams competing to sell fish in their first challenge.

The show, which made its debut Wednesday on AXN, saw the 12 contestants being split into two groups of men and women in the first challenge to sell fish at a local market here.

Both teams made losses in their sales but the men's group, Team Mavericks incurred a bigger loss.

Hence, one of its members had to face being eliminated from the show or "fired" by Fernandes.

F&B company founder Hendy Setiono, from Indonesia, was sent packing last night, after his team was defeated by the women's team, Team Apex.

The show takes on an elimination competition format whereby the 12 contestants, made up of Asia-based business executives, will go against each other for the opportunity to work for one of Fernandes' businesses.

Nine years after The Apprentice first aired in the United States, the Asian version has finally hit small screens here.

The Apprentice in the United States was a hit as winners were given the golden opportunity of working for flamboyant mogul Donald Trump.

However, over the years, its audience steadily dec­lined from more than 20 million viewers for season one (2004) to less than five million for season 10 (2010).

Nevertheless, Fernandes declared that what had happened in the United States was "irrelevant" as Asians were more interested in seeing an Asian candidate and local competition.

Fernandes is known for turning the ailing AirAsia outfit around and trailblazing the rise of the budget airline industry in Asia.

He also founded the no-frills Tune Hotels chain in 2007 and is the majority shareholder in English football club Queens Park Rangers.

These business interests fall under the entrepreneur's leisure and entertainment corporation Tune Group, which was established in 2007.

The Apprentice Asia can be viewed on AXN every Wednesday.


The Star Online: World Updates

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Canadian businessman goes on trial in Cuba for corruption

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:33 PM PDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - A Cuban court on Thursday wrapped up the first day of testimony in the graft trial of a Canadian businessman whose prosecution is part of a corruption crackdown that has shaken the country's foreign business community.

The court where the trial against Sarkis Yacoubian and Krikor Bayassalian is taking place, is seen in Havana May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

The court where the trial against Sarkis Yacoubian and Krikor Bayassalian is taking place, is seen in Havana May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

The trial of Sarkis Yacoubian, originally from Armenia and the owner of import firm Tri-Star Caribbean, was expected to end on Friday. An associate of Yacoubian, Lebanese citizen Krikor Bayassalian, is a co-defendant.

Canada's ambassador to Cuba, Matthew Levin, attended the trial but did not speak to reporters. Journalists were not allowed in the courtroom to cover the proceedings.

The corruption trials of at least three other Canadian and British executives, all of them arrested shortly after Yacoubian was taken into custody in July 2011, are expected to follow.

The arrests were unprecedented for Cuba, where foreign businessmen suspected of corruption are usually deported.

They are seen as a measure of President Raul Castro's determination to end a practice he views as a threat to Cuba's socialist system.

They sent shockwaves through the country's small foreign business sector where the companies involved were among the most visible players.

Cuba's state-run media, however, has not yet reported the Yacoubian trial, nor mentioned the arrests and crackdown on foreign trade.

After his arrest, Yacoubian confessed to bribery and implicated other foreign firms. Within months, dozens of Cuban officials and state purchasers were behind bars.

"I tried to explain to them (investigators) systematically how things could be done," Yacoubian told the Toronto Star last week in his only interview from jail. "I gave them drawings, designs. I gave them names, people, how they do it, why, when, where, what."

Yacoubian was expected to plead guilty to bribery, tax evasion and other crimes and could face up to 12 years behind bars, the newspaper said. Bayassalian faces the same charges.


In September 2011, two months after Tri-Star Caribbean was shuttered, Canada-based Tokmakjian Group, one of the most important Western trading firms in Cuba, was closed and its 73-year-old head, Cy Tokmakjian, also originally from Armenia and a Canadian citizen, was taken into custody.

Yacoubian had worked for Tokmakjian before founding Tri-Star to compete with his former employer in what became a bitter rivalry for Cuba's automobile, motorized and heavy equipment market.

In October 2011, police also closed the Havana offices of the British investment and trading firm Coral Capital Group Ltd and arrested chief executive Amado Fakhre, a Lebanese-born British citizen.

Two months later police raided the offices of the powerful military-run Tecnotex trading company, taking its Cuban chief executive Fernando Noy away in handcuffs.

Coral Capital's chief operating officer, Stephen Purvis, was arrested in March 2012. Purvis is a British citizen.

Other foreigners and Cubans who worked for the companies remain free but cannot leave the island because they are considered witnesses in the cases.

Cuban officials and lawyers for the defendants could not be reached for comment.

Soon after taking over for his ailing brother Fidel, in 2008, President Castro established the comptroller general's office and gave it a seat on the ruling Council of State, even as he began implementing market-oriented economic reforms.

That step marked the start of the anti-corruption campaign that uncovered high-level graft in key sectors ranging from the cigar, nickel and communications industries to food processing and civil aviation.

The foreign trade business, which manages billions of dollars in purchases annually and is controlled by a handful of state firms, is perhaps the most vulnerable to corruption, foreign and Cuban businessmen say.

There is no open bidding in Cuba's international trade operations and state purchasers who handle multimillion-dollar contracts earn just $50 to $100 per month.

"You have people who do not make enough money to care for their families handling huge contracts. What do you expect?" a local administrator said on condition of anonymity.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Obama shifts U.S. from 'perpetual war-footing,' limits drone strikes

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:19 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday shifted the United States away from a "boundless global war on terror," restricting deadly drone strikes abroad and signalling that America's long struggle against al Qaeda will one day end.

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a point about his administration's counter-terrorism policy at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a point about his administration's counter-terrorism policy at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

In a major policy speech, Obama narrowed the scope of the U.S. targeted-killing campaign against al Qaeda and its allies and took new steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison - controversial elements of the U.S. counterterrorism fight that have drawn condemnation at home and abroad.

"Our nation is still threatened by terrorists," Obama said at Washington's National Defense University. "We must recognize however, that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11."

After launching costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is tiring of conflict. While combating terrorism is still a high priority for the White House, polls show by large margins that Americans' main concerns are the economy and healthcare.

Faced with criticism about civilian casualties in attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles, Obama said the United States would only use those drone strikes when a threat was "continuing and imminent," a nuanced change from the previous policy of launching strikes against a significant threat.

Under new presidential guidance signed by Obama on Wednesday, the Defense Department will also take the lead in launching lethal drones, as opposed to the current practice of the CIA taking charge.

That would subject drone operations to more scrutiny from Congress and might lead to the Pentagon taking over drone operations in Yemen, but not in Pakistan, where the CIA is likely to continue to run the program.

With al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden killed in a U.S. raid in 2011, a number of the group's top members taken out in drone strikes, and the U.S. military role in Afghanistan winding down, Obama made clear it was time for a policy shift.

"Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless รข€˜global war on terror' - but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," Obama said.

Now in his second term and with no need to worry about re-election, Obama appears intent on confronting human rights and civil liberties challenges that threaten to stain his legacy.

Those include the Guantanamo prison at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, where more than 100 prisoners are on hunger strike and dozens are being force-fed to keep them alive.

Obama said he would lift a moratorium on sending Yemeni detainees home, appoint a State Department coordinator and work with Congress to break a deadlock over the camp where most prisoners have been held for more than a decade without trial.

Human rights groups mostly welcomed Obama's assertion that America could not remain on "a perpetual war-time footing," but some activists said he was not going far enough.

"Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands," Obama said.

Republican opponents accused him of giving in to terrorism.

"The president's speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory. Rather than continuing successful counterterrorism activities, we are changing course with no clear operational benefit," Senator Saxby Chambliss from Georgia said.

Although the number of drone strikes has dropped in the past year after peaking in the middle of Obama's first term, the use of remote-controlled aircraft to attack extremists - and the civilian casualties that have sometimes resulted - has increased tensions with countries such as Pakistan and drawn criticism from rights activists.

The New America Foundation's widely cited drone attack database shows there have been 355 drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions since 2004 and more than 60 in Yemen since 2009.

Pilotless aircraft are increasingly playing a role in the armoury of the United States and other countries. The U.S. Navy made aviation history on May 14 by launching an unmanned stealth jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time, with an eye on possible rivals like China and Iran.

Obama suggested the possibility of creating a secret court to oversee counterterrorism drone strikes, but he left it to Congress to decide on that.


Renewing his long-standing vow to close the Guantanamo prison, Obama called it "a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."

Obama has been frustrated by his inability to make good on his 2008 campaign pledge to shut the prison, which was opened by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, to hold men rounded up on suspicion of involvement with al Qaeda and the Taliban after the September 11 attacks.

Obama's latest Guantanamo proposals will likely meet much of the same resistance his earlier ones did from Republicans and some Democrats.

But two Senate Republicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, said they could support closing Guantanamo and moving some of its functions to the United States if Obama presented a workable plan. Obama suggested a suitable site could be found on the U.S. mainland to hold military tribunals.

McCain and Graham have suggested that trials could be held at Charleston Naval Yard in South Carolina. A supermax prison in Illinois has also been proposed in the past for housing Guantanamo inmates.

Among those tuning into the speech were some prisoners at Guantanamo, who rely on television broadcasts and newspapers for hints about their fate.

"Detainees follow all coverage of Guantanamo closely, including today's speech, and the post-speech commentary, analysis and editorials," said Navy Captain Robert Durand, a spokesman for the Guantanamo detention operation. "There is interest and discussion, but no discernible reaction," he said.

Durand did not specify how many detainees had watched the speech. He said about two dozen had unrestricted access to television in communal settings and many others held in single cells were allowed to watch live TV during certain hours, including programming in Arabic, Farsi, English, Russian, Spanish and other languages.

A hunger strike by 103 of the 166 detainees - 32 of whom have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed - has put pressure on Obama to take action.

"There is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened," Obama said.

The president was interrupted for more than a minute by a heckler from the Code Pink anti-war group, who berated him for not closing the prison.

While he cannot shut Guantanamo on his own, Obama announced steps aimed at getting some prisoners out. He lifted a moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen out of respect for that country's reforming government. Yemenis make up the largest group of prisoners.

He also called on Congress to lift restrictions on the transfer of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo and directed the Defense Department to identify a site in the United States to hold military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Lawmakers from both major parties have opposed bringing them to the U.S. mainland.

Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human Rights Campaign, called Obama's wide-ranging 50-minute address a "momentous speech." "Now it's time for him to take immediate action and get the job done," he said.

But he made clear that differences remained with Obama's policies. "What's needed on drones is not a 'kill court,' but rejection of the radical redefinition of 'imminence' used to expand who can be killed, as well as independent investigations of alleged extrajudicial executions and remedy for victims."

Obama's administration acknowledged on Wednesday that since 2009, four Americans had been killed in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, including militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Obama defended those operations, saying that when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against the United States, his citizenship should not be a shield.

Further underscoring Obama's hopes for changing the U.S. military posture toward terrorism, Obama also called on Congress to revise the authorization of the use of force it passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, a provision that many critics see as overly broad and subject to presidential abuse.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Mark Felsenthal, Susan Cornwell, Patricia Zengerle and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington and Jane Sutton in Miami; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jim Loney)

Related Stories:
U.S. drone guidelines could reduce 'signature strikes'

Factbox - Obama outlines rules for armed drone strikes
Factbox - Obama outlines steps toward closing Guantanamo prison
Guantanamo prisoners tune in for Obama's speech on their fate

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Repatriating detainees to Yemen key to closing Guantanamo

Posted: 23 May 2013 04:47 PM PDT

WASHINGTON/MIAMI (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's pledge on Thursday to lift a ban on transfers of detainees to Yemen from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, addresses one of the core obstacles to clearing out the detention camp.

The interior of an unoccupied communal cellblock is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong

The interior of an unoccupied communal cellblock is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong

Of the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer or release, 56 are from Yemen, where al Qaeda has a dangerous presence. There are 80 more prisoners who are not cleared and an unknown number of those are Yemeni as well.

Most of the Yemeni prisoners were captured more than a decade ago. Previously, they were a smaller percentage of the detainees, which included higher numbers of Afghans and Saudis.

But as the United States worked out agreements with other countries to transfer detainees to their homelands, it remained reluctant to do so with Yemen because of security concerns.

Repatriation of Yemeni prisoners was halted in 2010 after a man trained by militants in Yemen attempted to blow up a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 with a bomb concealed in his underwear.

The Obama administration so far has been sceptical that Yemen is stable enough to receive the transfers. Officials fear the consequences of a repatriated Yemeni eventually attacking the United States or its interests.

Yemen is home to an al Qaeda wing that was once described by Washington as the movement's most dangerous branch. Impoverished and turbulent, Yemen is located next door to the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and major crude shipment routes.

Militants allied to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took advantage of Arab Spring chaos in Yemen in 2011 to seize control of some towns in the country's south. They were pushed from those towns last year but continue to fight government forces.

Recent developments, however, appear to have triggered reconsideration in Washington. Yemen's new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has made tackling militants a top priority.

Supporters of shutting down Guantanamo said they were encouraged by Obama's pledge on transfers to Yemen but noted that he included heavy caveats during his wide-ranging speech on Thursday on how the United States will narrow its global war on terror.

When renewing his pledge to close Guantanamo, Obama said, "I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries."

Wells Dixon, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York organization that has represented a number of Guantanamo prisoners, said he was not encouraged by Obama's statements.

"While I welcome his lifting the ban on transfers to Yemen, and his renewed commitment to closing the prison, I am deeply troubled by his comment that cleared detainees will be released only 'to the extent possible,'" Dixon said.

"What does that mean? Are men going to be released and reunited with their families or not? If men are not released soon, especially to Yemen, the crisis at Guantanamo will worsen and men will die. They cannot be let down again; it's cruel and inhumane," he said.

Retired Rear Admiral Don Guter, who served as the judge advocate general and was the Navy's top judge on September 11, 2001, praised the move to lift the ban on Yemeni transfers.

"That's really created paralysis on that issue so removing that moratorium is a great step," Guter said.

Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, said in a statement that the Yemeni government will work with the United States to ensure the safe return of detainees and work toward their rehabilitation.


Calls on Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay camp have risen as a hunger strike at the U.S. naval base in Cuba lingers. Prisoners are in the fourth month of their strike to protest the failure to resolve their fate after 11 years of detention.

More than 100 people have joined the protest and 32 have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed.

Transferring prisoners to Yemen was one of several steps Obama announced to move toward closing the prison.

Other moves included designating a site in the United States for military commissions, and including a new senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department to oversee transfers.

Lifting the ban does not mean transfers to Yemen will immediately take place. Current law requires the Defense Department to certify for each transferred prisoner that the destination country is not a state sponsor of terrorism and would take action to make sure the individual would not threaten the United States.

Unless those provisions are removed or expire, they would have to be followed. No prisoners have been certified yet so it is not known how long the process takes.

Obama called on Congress to lift those and other restrictions that it placed on prisoner transfers starting in 2011. If it were so inclined, Congress could do this in the coming months as it works on defence legislation. The restrictions have had bipartisan support in the past.

The youngest of all the remaining Guantanamo prisoners is a Yemeni named Hassan Mohammed ali bin Attash, who is 26 or 27 and is an alleged al Qaeda member accused by the United States of being part of Osama bin Laden's security detail. He is not among those cleared for release or transfer; the United States wants to continue holding him indefinitely.

Some Republican reaction to Obama's speech showed it may be difficult for Obama to secure congressional support for lifting the restrictions on transfers.

"What's changed in Yemen?" asked Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who wants Guantanamo to stay open. "I think this issue of transferring to Yemen is very troubling, given the history we have with Yemen and terrorist activity there."

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Bill Trott)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Google, like Facebook, in talks to buy Waze for about US$1bil

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:43 PM PDT

Published: Friday May 24, 2013 MYT 9:43:00 AM

NEW YORK: Google Inc is considering buying Israeli mobile satellite navigation start-up Waze Inc, which may lead to a bidding war with Facebook Inc, Bloomberg news reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Waze is seeking more than $1 billion and is fielding expressions of interest from multiple parties, said Bloomberg, citing a source.

Other media have reported that Facebook Inc has held talks to buy Waze for as much as $1 billion.

Google and other parties approached Waze after the Facebook talks became public but none of the bidders are close to clinching a deal, Bloomberg said, adding that the start-up might decide to remain independent.

Waze could not immediately be reached for comment. Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Waze uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic info. - Reuters


Crown selling entire 10% in rival Echo, partly owned by Genting

Posted: 23 May 2013 05:51 PM PDT

SYDNEY: Australian casino company Crown Ltd is selling its entire 10 percent stake in rival Echo Entertainment Group, the operator of Sydney's sole casino, a source with knowledge of the sale said.

Crown is seeking in a book build through UBS to sell 82.5 million Echo shares at A$3.20 each, or for a total of A$264 million ($255.51 million), according to a term sheet provided by the source. That's a 7 percent discount to the stock's closing price on Thursday.

The sale comes a week after Crown received government approval to raise its stake in Echo to as much as 23 percent. The source said he does not know why Crown is selling the stake.

"Perhaps Crown's confident it's going to win approval for Barangaroo," said CLSA analyst Sacha Krien, referring to Crown's planned A$1 billion hotel development on Sydney's waterfront that includes a high-roller casino.

Crown's stake in Echo, which has the rights until 2019 to operate the only casino in Sydney, was widely viewed as an insurance policy to grab a slice of the lucrative Asian gambling market in case the Barangaroo proposal was rejected.

Echo has put forward a rival proposal to expand its existing Star casino and the government will only approve one of the developments.

However, Krien noted that the New South Wales state government only recently extended its review deadline for the two proposals to June 21, suggesting that other factors could also be behind the move.

"There is some reasonably bearish sentiment around the Australian economy, and maybe they think there's more downside in trading conditions," Krien said.

Officials at Crown, controlled by billionaire James Packer, as well as Echo couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Along with Crown, Echo has been courted by companies associated with Malaysian gaming giant Genting Bhd.

However, Genting, through Genting Singapore PLC, unexpectedly cut its stake in Echo last September, giving no reasons. It still owns Echo shares through its Genting Hong Kong Ltd unit.

Genting has also applied to increase its stake above 10 percent. ($1 = 1.0332 Australian dollars) - Reuters


First edition of 'Great Gatsby' to be sold at auction, can fetch US$150,000

Posted: 23 May 2013 05:45 PM PDT

Published: Friday May 24, 2013 MYT 8:45:00 AM

NEW YORK: A first edition copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, "The Great Gatsby," will be up for sale next month and could fetch up to $150,000, Sotheby's said on Thursday.

The book, which once belonged to the critic and author Malcolm Cowley, will go under the hammer along with a group of Fitzgerald's letters and an unpublished poem in the June 11 books and manuscript sale in New York.

"The book is now almost universally recognized as standing among the great achievements of 20th-century American literature with the tragic story of Jay Gatsby, and more broadly, the American dream, resonating with readers for generations," Sotheby's said in a statement announcing the sale.

Fitzgerald wrote the Jazz Age drama while living in France. Although it was popular when it was published in 1925, it wasn't until Fitzgerald's death in 1940 that it was hailed as the great American novel.

News of the sale comes just weeks after the opening of director Baz Luhrmann's film "The Great Gatsby," starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the hero of the tragic love story. - Reuters



The Star Online: Sports

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BAM must stop rewarding mediocrity or be doomed

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:13 PM PDT

MERITOCRACY is a dying word in Malaysian sports. And it will be dead and buried as long as mediocrity is tolerated.

For how else can one describe the situation with Malaysia's top men's doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.

Is there hope for the duo – or Malaysian badminton, in general.

Based on their performances in the Sudirman Cup, Kien Keat-Boong Heong are definitely living on borrowed time.

Their uninspiring performance against Taiwan's unheralded pair of Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin clearly sums up their slow and steady fall from grace.

Technically, the duo still have three months to salvage whatever pride there is left and restore the fans' faith and interest in them.

To do that, the pair will need to work their socks off in the next 90 days and finish their career on a high at the World Championships in August in Guangzhou.

Three months is all it takes. Three months of sacrifices. Three months of self-disciplined lifestyle. Three months of blood, sweat and tears. Three months of sheer obedience to their coaches.

There's no guarantee they will succeed. But if they can regain the kind of form that struck fear in the hearts of their opponents, at least they can regain their pride and earn the respect of everyone.

But to be honest, whatever happens – whether they finish on a high or on a low – the reality is that one cannot see Kien Keat-Boon Heong going beyond the World Championships.

If they produce decent performances in Guangzhou, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) can start thinking of finding new partners for them.

If they fall flat again, it should mark the end of their seven-year roller-coaster ride.

So, what has really happened to this pair, who once ruled the world with their breathtaking exploits and performances, since winning the 2006 Asian Games gold medal in Doha?

Everyone knows that the former All-England champions had some misunderstandings in the past. But, two days ago, former international Razif Sidek revealed a darker side to their decline.

Indiscipline and unhealthy lifestyle – like late nights and gambling – were among the factors associated to their decline.

But what irked Razif the most was that BAM were aware of the situation but did not crack the whip until it was too late.

Coaches' reports of their indiscipline behaviour were brought up at BAM meetings but their so-called "godfathers" were always there to protect them, thus resulting in them being let off the hook time and again.

So, is there a future for Malaysian badminton?

Yes, but only if BAM are serious in stamping out the bad habits – double standards and favouritism. BAM must opt to change and the change should start right from the top.

There should only be one set of rule for all the players – irrespective of whether they are juniors or seniors. Break it, and you pay the price.

The coaches should also be fair and bold enough to make a stand and speak up.

BAM need to take a long and hard look at themselves too, for having had a hand in creating this malady.

Remember the incident where a Datuk's son made it to the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) although he did not qualify on merit?

That is as clear a case as you will ever get about mediocrity being rewarded instead of meritocracy.

BAM will have a new president when they hold their annual general meeting (AGM) in July as president Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh is not standing for re-election.

For the sake of badminton, whoever succeeds him, please do the right thing.

Otherwise, badminton too will suffer a slow and steady death once Lee Chong Wei hangs up his racquet.

Gritty Indonesia give mighty China a huge scare

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:19 PM PDT

A BRILLIANT strategy, a great sense of patriotism and a gamble on a young men's doubles pair almost paid off for Indonesia as they went down fighting 3-2 to mighty China in the quarter-finals of the Sudirman Cup at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Indonesia, who have undergone a massive restructuring in their national team set-up, can surely walk tall despite the loss.

Even China chief coach Li Yongbo was full of praise for Indonesia, describing the tie as the "final".

Indonesia hit where it hurts most for China when they stole two points through Ahmad Tantowi-Lilyana Natsir in the mixed doubles and Rian Agung Saputra-Angga Pratama in the men's doubles.

Tantowi-Lilyana gave an outstanding performance to upstage world No. 1 Xu Chen-Ma Jin 21-18, 14-21, 16-21 in 65 minutes for only their second win over the Chinese in eight meetings.

Reigning All-England champion Chen Long levelled the tie with an impressive 21-11, 21-15 win over Tommy Sugiarto before Rian-Angga made heads turn.

Spurred by a group of Indonesian supporters, world No. 10 Rian-Angga, who do not even have a Super Series title to their names, stunned four-time world champion and Olympic champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng 19-21, 21-18, 21-15 in an enthralling 62-minute match.

China, however, can thank their women power for pulling through, thanks to world No. 1s Li Xuerui and Yu Yang-Wang Xiaoli in the singles and doubles respectively.

All-Indonesia Badminton Association (PBSI) secretary Anton Suwobo said: "The mixed doubles is our strongest and in order for it to be the first event of the tie, we had to field Lilyana in the women's doubles too. I think the opening win motivated the team to fight all the way. It was purely tactical."

Indonesia's high performance director Rexy Mainaky said that they had nothing to lose by fielding Rian-Angga and wanted the youngsters to prove themselves.

"Rian and Angga have not been doing well but the team gave them lots of motivation. We decided to give them an opportunity to play today and they did not disappoint us. This will surely give them the much-needed confidence boost," said Rexy.

Yongbo said he did not expect seniors Cai Yun-Haifeng to lose but commended Indonesia for their brave line-up.

"It was a very exciting game and I must congratulate Indonesia ... their youngsters played above expectations. It has been long since a team gave us a good fight like this in the Sudirman Cup," he said.

"It's unfortunate that they had to meet us in the quarter-finals ... if not, they could have gone into the final.

"Indonesia took two points from us and based on their performance, I see a good future for them.

"I feel that Cai Yun-Haifeng should not have lost. They not only had to face a young and aggressive pair but the umpire was also against them ... I'm unhappy with a few controversial calls."

China will take on Denmark tomorrow and Yongbo expects his team to return even stronger after a day's rest.

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Yong-dae believes luckless run in world meet will end in Guangzhou

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:20 PM PDT

SOUTH KOREAN Lee Yong-dae's luckless run in the World Championships may come to an end in Guangzhou in August.

This is because the 24-year-old is pleased as punch with the progress he and his new partner Ko Sung-hyun have shown after a roller-coaster ride over the last seven months.

Yesterday, the duo were almost perfect when they combined superbly to beat Ingo Kindervater-Johannes Schoettler 21-13, 21-10 to clinch the winning point for South Korea in the quarter-final against Germany in the Sudirman Cup.

With Sung-hyun-Kim Ha-na and Lee Dong-keun contributing the other two points, South Korea whitewashed Germany 3-0 to set up a meeting with Thailand in the semi-finals.

Thailand created history by beating Japan 4-1 to reach their first ever semi-final.

Yong-dae, who is still chasing an elusive gold medal in the World Championships after coming so close with his former partner Chung Jae-sung in three editions, said that his new partnership was getting more stable.

With Jae-sung, he finished runners-up twice in the 2007 and 2009 editions in Kuala Lumpur and Hyderabad respectively. They came in third at the world meet in London two years ago.

He teamed up with Sung-hyun after winning a bronze medal with Jae-sung at the London Olympic Games.

"We've gone through a series of ups and downs over the last seven months. We did so well in the beginning but then suffered a dip in form," said Yong-dae.

They won five titles last year but have managed only one – the recent Asian Badminton Championships in Taiwan – this year.

"But we've not been idle. We analysed why and how our opponents were able to beat us and worked on our weak points. We are much better and our partnership now looks ideal and positive," said Yong-dae.

World No. 3 Yong-dae-Sung-hung are hoping to play their part to take South Korea into the final.

"It feels good to win the winning point for my team (against Germany today) ... now we hope to play with equal determination against our next opponents," said Yong-dae.

Sung-hyun, who contributed two points – in the men's and mixed doubles – was delighted to have accomplished his double duty with perfection.

"I'm happy with my partnership with Yong-dae. He is special and I just look forward to playing with him in as many tournaments as I can. We have much more to accomplish," he said.

Related Stories:
Gritty Indonesia give mighty China a huge scare
Chong Wei urges team-mates to put Cup exit behind
BAM secretary: It all depends on Kien Keat and Boon Heong now
Chin Chai will not take up offer as CNT committee chairman
BAM must stop rewarding mediocrity or be doomed


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Outta Nowhere comes this Pitbull

Posted: 22 May 2013 11:00 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Pitbull has taken his blend of American pop music fused with Latin beats from the clubs of Miami to international pop charts, but he now is crossing into film with his first acting role as an animated character in the upcoming movie, Epic.

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Perez, has become a staple in the pop music field with lively dance-floor tracks including recent chart hits Feel This Moment with Christina Aguilera and Live It Up with Jennifer Lopez.

The rapper, 32, plays street-smart frog Bufo in Epic, a movie that explores a secret universe where the natural world is battling evil forces.

Pitbull talked to Reuters about his film debut, working with Lopez and the origins of his numerous nicknames.

What do you make of this whole animation world you got a chance to work in?

Before I didn't understand what it meant to put a voice to animation and see it come to life. But I'm always game for trying new things. I love how those artists could see my voice on the character before it was even drawn up.

How did the animators bring your influence to the character of Bufo the frog? Did they capture your essence?

They captured a piece of my essence, absolutely. The suits, the business/hustler, knowing how to navigate his way through the good and bad. Bufo knows how to play the middle. It's business, not personal for him. I think they captured about 75 percent of my essence. The gestures, the hand movements, the way he walks - I think they watched me a lot in the studio when I was there.

Many musical artists have made their way to film. Why haven't you transitioned sooner?

It's all about timing. I've had projects on the table but I didn't have the time to do them. This caught me at the right time ... I hope there's a sequel because I would love to see more of Bufo in number two. I have a lot of good ideas for them, ideas that would capture the rest of that 25 percent of the essence they may have missed.

Your stage moniker 'Pitbull' is named after a dog that tends to get a lot of bad press unfortunately.

Pitbulls are misunderstood and that's the same thing with me when I first came into the music business. Being Cuban-American made me politically incorrect. My whole life was trying to make people understand that we all come from the same place.

It's the same with the dog. The pitbull is a very loyal, very loving dog that doesn't understand the concept of losing. I believe in fighting hard for what you believe in and never giving up.

How important is your Cuban heritage?

It's very important. I'm Cuban-American, first generation. The Latin culture is everything. But I'm very careful to not let that box me in. I want to represent (my heritage) and I'm proud of who I am, but it's about letting others know that we are just like everybody else.

We don't want people to judge us, we want people to understand us, to see that we've gone through the same things everybody else has gone through and suffered the same struggles.

What were some of the pivotal moments in your career that really changed things for you?

The record that took it global was I Know You Want Me (in 2009). Before that, I lived in the clubs and in the streets as far as my music. But that song took it to the next level. Give Me Everything (in 2011) was a turning point. This record coming out (on May 28) called Outta Nowhere will be another turning point I think.

How so?

It's a different side of me. It's going to show everything that we've been speaking about here - motivation, believing in yourself, not giving up. With this record, I wanted to come out of nowhere, which is why the name is perfect.

Live It Up is your third collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, following On The Floor and Dance Again. What's your partnership like?

Jennifer is a hard worker, very professional, gorgeous and she's a walking empire. Anytime I'm around her, I'm watching, learning, studying. It's a natural combination, like a student and teacher. I'm a student all day. I think it would be an honor for Jennifer to watch me grow and say, 'That kid did learn.'

With all your recent success, do you feel like you've gotten the respect you deserve? Do you feel more relaxed now and less needing to prove yourself?

No, I'm never relaxed. I think complacency is a cousin of death. As far as respect, whether they do or don't, to each his own. But I do tell you this much, this is just the beginning. I promise you, it's just the beginning.

Part of Marilyn Monroe exhibit stolen on way to Prague

Posted: 22 May 2013 09:34 PM PDT

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Part of an exhibition displaying outfits and photographs of Marilyn Monroe was stolen while being transported to the Czech Republic from Italy, the event's curator said on Wednesday.

The exhibition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of her death, was created by the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence last year.

Ferragamo was the actress' favourite shoemaker and she owned a dozen pairs of his hand-made shoes.

Curator Jan Trestik said a truck carrying mannequins and photographs was raided in an apparently coordinated attack in the central Czech Republic on trucks carrying luxury goods from Italy.

David Sebek, spokesman for Prague Castle, which is due to host the show, said most of the exhibits, including her dresses, had already arrived intact.

Prague police spokesman Tomas Hulan said officers were investigating the case but refused to give any details.

Free The Hangover Part III tickets

Posted: 22 May 2013 08:57 PM PDT

In the aftermath of the death of Alan's father, the wolfpack decide to take Alan to get treated for his mental issues. But things start to go wrong on the way to the hospital as the wolfpack is assaulted and Doug is kidnapped. Now they must find Mr. Chow again in order to surrender him to the gangster who kidnapped Doug.

The Hangover Part III stars Bradley Cooper, Heather Graham, Zach Galifianakis, John Goodman, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Ed Helms and Jamie Chung.

We have 40 pairs of tickets to a special screening. All you have to do is print this page and bring it along with you to our redemption table at GSC Paradigm Mall.

Please note that tickets will be given on a first come, first served basis. Each person will be given only one pair of tickets.

Redemption Details

Date: 29 May 2013 (Wednesday)

Time: 8.00pm

Venue: GSC Paradigm Mall

Screening Details

Date: 29 May 2013 (Wednesday)

Time: 9.00pm

Venue: GSC Paradigm Mall

Rules & Regulations

1. This redemption is open to all eCentral fans.

2. Print out the contest page and redeem it at the venue given in this article.

3. Each page entitles you to two movie tickets only. Each person is allowed to redeem only once.

4. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

5. Queue-jumping and reserving places in line during the redemption are strictly prohibited. The organizers reserve the right to refuse tickets to anyone found doing so.

6. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.

7. This movie is not yet rated.. Movie ratings will strictly apply for this movie. The organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the cinema hall to those not within the permitted age limit. No exceptions will be made at any time for any reason.

8. I hereby expressly consent to the collection, collation, use and/or disclosure of all my personal data by Star Publications (M) Berhad for the purposes of the The Hangover Part III contest.

9. For enquiries, please e-mail


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MACC begins investigation on payment in rape-marry case

Posted: 23 May 2013 08:37 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has started its investigation on a claim of possible corrupt practice involved in the case of a restaurant manager charged with raping an under-age girl in Kota Kinabalu.

MACC director of investigation, Datuk Mustafar Ali, in a statement here Thursday night, said the investigation by the commission was carried out with the cooperation of other agencies.

Riduan Masmud, 40, was charged with raping the girl, who is 12 years and six months old, in a car parked by the road side at Inanam, Sabah, at about 10am last Feb 18.

However, during the trial, he married the girl.

Sessions Court judge Ummu Khatom Abd Samad gave until June 6 for the Attorney-General's Chambers to decide whether or not to go ahead with the case.

Last May 7, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Nazmeen Zulkifli informed the court that he had no objection for the case to be withdrawn after the victim withdrew the police report which she made on April 18.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on Wednesday gave the assurance that the rape case was still on.

He was also reported to have suggested MACC to look into over the RM5,000 payment of "Sogit" or compensation given by the accused to the girl's father.

Guan Eng ticks off IGP for investigating DAP’s Chen Man Hin

Posted: 23 May 2013 07:47 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng has taken Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to task for "wasting time" investigating DAP founding member Dr Chen Man Hin for allegedly conspiring to create public disorder when he should be focusing on waging war against crime.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the party was shocked that the police found it necessary to investigate the innocent actions of an 86-year-old who supposedly conspired to create public disorder when he used the term "Malaysia Spring" in a private e-mail correspondence over a year ago.

It was reported that Chen was called in for questioning for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government through street demonstrations similar to those that had occurred in several Middle Eastern countries and had been labelled the Arab Spring.

"The investigation is clearly to victimise and humiliate a DAP leader. Even if the charge to topple the government was true, why is the investigation carried out now after more than a year when, clearly, there has been no effort to overthrow the government?" Lim said in a statement.

He said questioning Dr Chen on a baseless charge showed how Khalid practised double-standards.

Lim hit out at this "ridiculous" move, saying it would only waste police resources and effort when these should be used to fight the rising crime instead.

Pointing out that even the sisters of the Deputy Prime Minister and Khalid himself had fallen victim to incidents of crime recently, Lim urged the police to instead focus on making the streets and the people's homes safer.

Temporary closure of traffic lights at junction of Jln Damansara, Jln Wan Kadir 3

Posted: 23 May 2013 07:19 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Traffic lights at the junction of Jalan Damansara and Jalan Wan Kadir 3 (coming from Kuala Lumpur/Sprint Highway) is temporarily closed from May 23 until further notice, Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) said in a statement Thursday.

This is in view of the recent accidents at this location.

"Several accidents have occurred at the junction over the past few days and we have taken the urgent decision to close the junction for a review of traffic management plans there. We are consulting the authorities on the issue," said MRT Corp Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations Encik Amir Mahmood Razak.

He added that traffic studies are currently ongoing with consultants and relevant authorities like DBKL for a long-term solution.

A revised traffic management plan for Jalan Damansara will be implemented to accommodate the construction activities for MRT Taman Tun Dr Ismail station and piers along Jalan Damansara.

"This revision is part of our on-going efforts to ensure we respond appropriately to minimise public risk. We are also taking the opportunity of the school break where there is less traffic during peak hours to undertake this exercise," added Encik Amir.

Road users coming from Sprint Highway (LDP-bound) wishing to access Jalan Wan Kadir 3 are advised to proceed to the traffic lights in front of Pizza Hut.

Road users can then turn into Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad, continuing to the traffics lights near the VADS Building towards Jalan Datuk Sulaiman to access Jalan Wan Kadir 3

As part of MRT Corp's Standard Operating Procedure, safety barriers, traffic cones and traffic flagman will be placed to ensure road users are pre-warned of on-going works.

Motorists are advised to adhere to the speed limit at that area. In addition, a 24-hour MRT Ronda will be patrolling along the route to attend to any emergencies.

MRT Corp apologised for any temporary inconvenience caused to the public during the construction of this world-class public transport facility that will benefit al Malaysians.

The Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line will comprise 31 stations, and serve 1.2 million people along the route.

It will also have strategic integration with KL's existing rail transport network, namely the LRT, Monorail and KTM Komuter, as well as intra and intercity bus routes.

The end result will be better connectivity for KL and its surrounding cities, while reducing the number of cars that enter the capital.

For more information on traffic diversion, the public can visit the MRT website at or, Twitter @MRTMalaysia or twitter @MyMRT Underground or call the MRT Hotline at 1-800-82-6868.


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DBKL initiates Sahabat Taman to help curb vandalism on public property

Posted: 23 May 2013 07:04 AM PDT

CREATING awareness on caring for the environment is the only way to maintain public parks and prevent vandalism, says Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib.

He said the condition of facilities at Taman Rimba Bukit Kerinchi in Kuala Lumpur was deplorable, especially since it was just upgraded six months ago.

"Among the vandalism reported were boom gates being ripped off, broken taps in toilets and holes bored into the water tank.

"Some vandals carry out these acts to steal the items and sell them while others set out to damage things for fun.

"The vandals who do it for fun are more worrying as it indicates a serious social problem," said Ahmad Phesal.

"We are constantly upgrading the parks and looking for ways to make them better places for the public.

"But if the facilities are repeatedly vandalised, it is just a waste of money. That is why the "Sahabat Taman" (Park Friends) programme was initiated.

"I feel that the public should take ownership of the park and be the eyes for Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to help oversee the facilities and report any wrongdoings.

"Ideally, it should be those who visit the park often," he added.

The first park to be adopted under this programme is the 64ha Taman Rimba Bukit Kerinchi.

"Since the launch on Jan 19, 500 have joined as members and the number of vandalism cases has reduced," said Ahmad Phesal.

"I believe we will be able to change the mindset of people and instil a sense of belonging so they care for public property.

"All it takes is being civic-minded. We will try this soft approach to curb vandalism," he added.

The mayor also said he was not in favour of any development for the park as it would affect the environment and water features.

"We have landscape architects, arborists, horticulturists and botanists overseeing the parks as well as officers on duty at the park daily.

"We just held a tree-planting event where over 1,000 trees were planted in Bukit Kerinchi. This is just one of the many efforts taken to preserve the forest for the future generation," he said.

DBKL has also identified 14 other parks for the programme and next in line are Taman Rekreasi Pudu Ulu and Taman Metropolitan Batu.

Puzzled over standards

Posted: 23 May 2013 06:58 AM PDT

PUSPAKOM has introduced various measures to improve its operations at its vehicle inspection centres recently but vehicle owners are not satisfied as they feel more could be done to resolve their woes.

Vehicle owners claimed that the equipment used to test their vehicles to meet Puspakom's standards were too advanced and that the inspection system was flawed, causing owners inconvenience.

The unhappy customers said they faced difficulty passing the vehicle inspection, especially with vehicle's brake system which failed the competency test.

They said vehicles that failed the brake test had to make countless trips before getting the nod.

Some of them said they had taken their vehicles, including buses, taxis and trucks for as many as eight to 25 brake tests.

They claimed that this, besides causing inconvenience, also led to losses as the vehicles could not be used unless certified as roadworthy.

They also said they had to spend thousands of ringgit to adjust the brake system in order to comply with Puspakom's requirements.

"All this is taking a toll on us as it can take months to sort out the problems.

"My bus has not been on the road for about three months now, since it failed the brake test in February this year,'' said V. G. Raju, a factory bus driver.

He said all he did during this time was take his bus to the workshop and try to correct the brake system. He added that his bus had undergone a total of 25 inspections at Puspakom.

"Today is my 25th attempt. My employer has spent a lot of money to correct the brakes and as the driver, I find the vehicle in good condition. Yet, Puspakom is not satisfied," said Raju when met at the Padang Jawa Puspakom centre recently.

A transport operator, who only identified himself as David, said he had brought his trucks at least 10 other times to undergo the brake test.

He said his company had a fleet of 25 trucks that operated nationwide.

"One of my trucks is going for its 23rd inspection and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will pass the test,'' he said.

Another transport company operator, Mohd Kamal Arifin said, "We are in the dark about what Puspakom actually wants as its vehicle inspectors are unable to tell us what is wrong with the brake system,'' he said, adding that vehicle owners had to pay RM55 for the first inspection and RM25 subsequently.

Puspakom's standards, Kamal said, was too stringent, even more so than in Singapore, making it difficult for commercial vehicles to meet the standards.

"I have spent time and money trying to repair a perfectly working brake system.

"We are being forced to correct something that is in working condition," said Kamal.

When contacted, a Puspakom official said there was nothing wrong with their inspection process and that its inspectors were only carrying out their jobs.


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