Selasa, 18 Jun 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Mexican oil producer Pemex says bomb threat a 'false alarm'

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 08:37 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil producer, Pemex, on Tuesday evacuated its Mexico City headquarters, the site of a deadly blast in January, but later said it was a false alarm.

"We've finished inspecting the Pemex tower," the company said in a message sent on Twitter at 10:25 p.m. local time/0325 GMT. "It was a false alarm."

In January, a blast at the same facility killed at least 37 people. The government said a gas leak caused the explosion, although many Mexicans questioned the explanation, speculating it may have been caused by a bomb.

Mexico's new government, which took office in December, is preparing to open up the state oil firm to private investment, which is a sensitive issue in Mexico.

Pemex has been a symbol of Mexican self-sufficiency since the oil industry was nationalized in 1938.

The government's plans, details of which have yet to be unveiled, have prompted accusations that President Enrique Pena Nieto plans to privatize the company, which he has repeatedly denied.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Adriana Barrera; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Peter Cooney and Stacey Joyce)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

United States to meet Taliban to seek Afghan peace

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 08:13 PM PDT

WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban raised hopes for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan with commitments to meet this week after 12 years of bloody and costly war between American-led forces and the insurgents.

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha June 18, 2013.REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha June 18, 2013.REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

The Taliban opened an office in Doha, the Qatari capital, on Tuesday to help restart talks and said it wanted a political solution that would bring about a just government and end foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

U.S. officials said the talks would start in Doha on Thursday but cautioned that the on-again, off-again peace process would likely be messy and has no guarantee of success.

"It's going to be a long, hard process if indeed it advances significantly at all," a senior U.S. official said.

The Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai also said it was sending a team to Doha and a senior official said the Taliban was willing to consider talks. But the insurgents made no immediate comment on the claim.

The ultimate goal of the diplomatic manoeuvring is to get representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban into direct negotiations on the country's future. The Taliban have thus far refused such talks, calling Karzai and his government puppets of the West.

Nonetheless, the diplomatic announcements represented the first signs of optimism in Afghan peace efforts for many months, and come as the U.S.-led war effort reaches a critical juncture. The NATO command in Kabul on Tuesday completed handing over lead security responsibility to Afghan government forces across the country.

NATO plans to end all combat operations in Afghanistan by December 2014.

President Barack Obama said U.S. combat operations would not cease and, in a reminder that the insurgents continue to fight, four U.S. troops were killed in an attack on Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said later on Tuesday.

Obama, travelling in Europe, cautioned against expectations of quick progress, saying the peace process would not be easy or quick.

"This is an important first step towards reconciliation; although it's a very early step," Obama said after a G8 meeting in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. "We anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road."

Karzai said his government would send a team to Qatar but added the talks should quickly be moved to Afghanistan.

"We hope that our brothers the Taliban also understand that the process will move to our country soon," he said.


It was not immediately clear why the Taliban had agreed to resume talks with the United States, which they broke off in March 2012. The question of entering negotiations has caused rifts between Pakistan-based Taliban senior leaders and younger battlefield commanders, who oppose the move, U.S. officials have said.

In opening the Qatar office, the Taliban said it was seeking a political solution, but added that no dates had been agreed for talks. Taliban representative Mohammed Naeem told a news briefing in Doha that the group wanted good relations with "all of the world countries."

"But the Islamic emirate (Taliban) sees the independence of the nation from the current occupation as a national and religious obligation," he said.

U.S. officials said that in the talks in Doha, the United States would stick to its insistence that the Taliban break ties with al Qaeda, end violence, and accept the Afghan constitution, including protection for women and minorities.

The Taliban is expected to demand the return of former senior commanders now detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - a move many in the U.S. Congress oppose - as well as the departure of all foreign troops.

But the United States hopes to keep a force, of as yet undetermined size, in the country after the end of the NATO combat mission.

The peace negotiations also face sceptics in the U.S. Congress.

"Until the Taliban confirm, not just in words but in action, that they have renounced all terrorist activity and support, we should not reward them by participating in any reconciliation efforts," Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, said in a statement.


U.S. officials said the initial meeting with the Taliban was expected to involve an exchange of agendas, followed by another meeting a week or two later to discuss next steps.

A U.S. official said he expected the initial meeting would be followed within days by another between the Taliban and the High Peace Council, a structure set up by Karzai to represent Afghanistan in such talks.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the level of trust between the Afghan government and the Taliban remained low, and played down expectations that the talks would quickly lead to peace.

"We need to be realistic," said one official. "This is a new development, a potentially significant development. But peace is not at hand."

A senior U.S. official said Pakistan, which has provided sanctuary to the Taliban despite its professed support for the battle against Islamist militancy, had recently been supportive of the peace process.

"There has in the past been scepticism about their support, but in recent months I think we've seen evidence that there is genuine support and that they've employed their influence such as it is to encourage the Taliban to engage," he said.

A U.S. official said the talks would be conducted on the Taliban side by its political commission, with the authorisation of its leader, Mullah Omar. The main U.S. interlocutor has been Tayeb Agha, whom Washington considers close to Omar.

James Dobbins, the new special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, will lead the U.S. side.

Also represented will be the Haqqani network, considered the United States' deadliest foe in Afghanistan. The top U.S. and NATO commander in the country cast doubt on Tuesday over whether it could make peace.

"All I've seen of the Haqqani would make it hard for me to believe they were reconcilable," U.S. General Joseph Dunford told reporters by phone from Kabul.

(Additional reporting by Dylan Welch and Mirwais Harooni in Kabul, Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan, William Maclean, Amena Bakr and Yara Bayoumy in Dubai, Jeff Mason in Enniskillen and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by David Brunnstrom and Warren Strobel; Editing by David Storey and Jim Loney and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Charges pending against Afghans accused of prison abuse: Australia

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 07:58 PM PDT

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Afghan authorities will lay charges against officials at a prison run by the country's internal security service, Australia said on Wednesday, just weeks after Canberra blocked prisoner transfers over fears of detainee mistreatment.

Afghan authorities were taking action after Australia stopped handing over insurgent suspects to an NDS-run detention facility at the coalition base in Tirin Kot, in southern Uruzgan province, Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith said.

"Australia has been informally advised by Afghan authorities that they are in the process of laying charges against a number of Afghan officials as a result of the allegations of detainee mistreatment at the National Directorate of Security facility," Smith said in a statement to parliament.

Prisoner transfers have been a major irritant in the relationship between Afghanistan's government and its Western backers, becoming more pronounced as the NATO-led coalition prepares to pull out most combat troops by the end of next year.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, battling wide unpopularity among his own countrymen, has made detention a national sovereignty issue as his government tries to strike a deal on a long-term U.S. troop presence.

Karzai this month demanded Britain hand over more than 80 prisoners of war being held in Camp Bastion in southern Helmand province, saying their detention was against Afghan law.

But international rights groups and major Western countries, including Britain and Australia, have raised concern about human rights abuses and torture inside Afghan detention centres.

Afghanistan counters that Western nations rely on questionable international legal principles to detain Afghans without access to the country's courts.

Smith said any allegations of abuse or mistreatment had to be investigated "in a robust and transparent manner". Between August 2010 and this June there had been 62 allegations of detainee mistreatment by Afghan forces in Uruzgan, he said.

"It is appropriate for Australia to await the outcome of the Afghan investigation into this matter, and advice on any action to be taken, before Australia will consider a resumption of the transfer of ADF-apprehended detainees to Afghan authorities in Tarin Kot," he said.

After controversies about resettlement barriers for Afghan interpreters and other locals working for coalition forces in the country, Smith said Australia recognised it had a "moral responsibility to support those who have assisted us".

Afghan employees at risk of harm as a consequence of their jobs supporting Australia's 1,550 troops would be offered resettlement through a special visa process, he said, provided they passed a risk assessment.

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Life imitating art

Posted: 19 Jun 2013 01:49 AM PDT

The Spudniks realise that they may be, unconsciously, living their lives like a television show.

I AM beginning to wonder if my entire lexicon is borrowed from the characters I watch almost day and night on television. Seriously. See, there's one already. It started when the folks on medical drama Grey's Anatomy started using the particular word to express practically every emotion they felt – by changing their tone, "seriously" could reflect incredulous disbelief (seriously???), to surprise (seriously?) to joy (seriously!). When my husband pointed out my overuse of the word, I was aghast. Well, at first I was annoyed and wanted to tell him to "eat my shorts" (guess where that line is from) but after a couple of minutes, the horror of what he said set in.

I mean, Grey's Anatomy has long become oh-so-uncool – why am I still using phrases from the show? Could I be any more passe? Frak! – that's a version of the "F" word used commonly on … wait for it … Battlestar Galactica.

The truth is, I find myself using phrases from TV shows all the time. Whether it's from a game show – "Is that your final answer?", a reality show – "The tribe has spoken", a cartoon – "What's up, doc?"/ "Oakley, dokley", a seriously dope (now that's a double whammy) science-fiction/mystery – "The truth is out there", a really old sitcom – "What'chu talkin' about, Willis?" or the infamous "Don't make me angry .." line from The Incredible Hulk series in the 1980s. (Could you guess where all these famous lines come from?)

But it isn't just the vocabulary that I've picked up. Honestly, since I started tuning in to Community a few weeks ago, I kind of relate to the character Abed, who connects almost all real-life situations with TV plots. In a sticky situation, I quite often wonder what a particular favourite character would do or how they'd react. Living my life in fantasy? Perhaps. Is resistance really futile? Well, maybe it's a great idea – after all, doesn't everything always turn out right on TV, albeit after a couple of nail-biting cliffhangers?

Speaking of cliffhangers, the show with the most ludicrous cliffhangers has to be the aforementioned Grey's Anatomy, right? Bombs in the ER, a gunman walking around the hospital, a deathly plane crash, a drowning incident, a ghost who comes back to woo his lover (they even make out ... eeew!)? Geez, let's put a caveat on this mimicking-characters-on-TV business shall we? As long as we rule out all soaps or dramas masquerading as soaps, we should be safe. – SI

* I AM trying to think of something that I do that's been influenced by TV. Like Indra, I do resort to saying a few phrases every now and again (like everyone else, I guess I have resorted to the occasional "The truth is out there" line at some point), but nothing has surreptitiously crept into my vocabulary and stayed there forever, I don't think.

Now, if I divulge the next piece of information I'll have to change all my passwords because for the longest time, my password was the same as one Fox Mulder's (The X-Files) – I thought "TRUSTNO1" was just the coolest password ever, and no one would ever figure it out. Really, it's the little things like that I think that end up weaving their way into my life.

Another example would be how I tried reading/listening to wise Zen sayings to try and calm myself every day or change my perspective on how I view things. This was all thanks to Damian Lewis's character, Charlie Crews, on Life. Lewis apparently prepared himself for the role by listening to the tapes of Alan Watts, who wrote The Way Of Zen and became one of that sect's most famous popularisers in the 1960s. In the show, Crews studied Zen Buddhism while he was in prison. He was such a testimony to his meditations on TV, that I was sure I would reap some good out of it, too! One of the things he used to say was "Maybe life is a dream and we wake up when we die?" I loved it!

I suppose some people, like Indra, will say that Ally McBeal had some clout over me too. Not only do I have meltdowns in the bathroom on a daily basis, I also have a penchant for miniskirts. Now if only I were as slim as Calista Flockhart.

The Wonder Years (which featured Kevin Arnold recalling how he grew up in the 1960s) also influenced me in a very pleasant way. I think Laura Ingalls of Little House On The Prairie did the same. These characters often narrated their tales in dairy-type fashion. And it intrigued me so much, I began penning down my own life stories. For years I kept a diary, detailing accounts, lifechanging moments, places and people I'd seen, and words that I relished. It almost felt like my own voice narrating the events of my life. Occasionally there's an imaginary soundtrack too (this would be inspired more by movies rather than TV, I think, thanks to the likes of directors like Cameron Crowe and Quentin Tarantino).

One of the biggest impacts, however, had to be Ed Asner of Lou Grant fame. I couldn't have been more than nine when I used to watch the newspaper drama on TV.

I have no idea what fascinated me about this old balding guy who worked at the Los Angeles Tribune daily newspaper as its city editor, but hooked I was. It made me decide right then at the age of nine that I wanted to be like him. And like him I am – old and balding, maybe, but also devoted to my job as a newspapergal for the last 22 years of my life. – AMC

(Big) Men vs food

Posted: 19 Jun 2013 03:54 AM PDT

Two Red FM announcers put themselves to the test in the ultimate eating contest.

Does size really matter? In this case, it does. Two of Malaysia's biggest (and literally, too) radio announcers Papi Zak and Kavin "Grumpy" Jay from Red FM's Really Really Late Breakfast Show (Mondays to Fridays, 2pm - 5pm) will attempt to eat a One Yard Long Nacho Cheesy Smoky Hot Dog each, live on air today.

The One Yard Long Nacho Cheesy Smoky Hot Dog is available at Gastro Sentral, Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur.This hefty meal includes a log of meat at a yard long (91.4cm) topped with nacho cheese, tomato salsa, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, deep fried onions and a pound (0.5kg) of fries. And if you are able to wolf down this complete meal in 45 minutes, you will get it completely free.

When the Really Really Late Breakfast Show duo heard of this challenge, they knew they had to put themselves to the test.

The idea of a food challenge is not something new to Papi Zak and Grumpy; their previous dares have included eating the spiciest curry, finishing a whole pot of curry and a 2.4kg steak.

Grumpy recalls: "When I was a poor student in England, I took on food challenges to feed myself. I found out that what the Westerners considered the world's spiciest curry was mild for Asians, so I frequented that joint for my free meals."

When Papi Zak was asked how he is preparing to beat Grumpy at this competition, he says: "I'm preparing for this the way I usually do – with plenty of cardio. My definition of cardio is driving around and stuffing my face with delicious food."

The penalty for not completing this giant meal in 45 minutes is to spend a day in the bustling kitchens of Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur working as a kitchenhand, assisting chefs in preparing and storing food, washing dishes and kitchen utensils as well as cleaning work areas. It is going to be a spectacle to see these guys race against time to gobble one very, very large yet delicious meal.

To date, seven diners have taken on this challenge but couldn't finish the meal. Will Papi Zak and Grumpy succeed where others have failed? Tune in today from 2pm to catch this food challenge.

Red FM is a subsidiary of Star Radio Group. Stream it live on


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

FedEx eyes record win at Wimbledon

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 04:33 PM PDT

PARIS: Ten years after Roger Federer made his Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon, the 17-time major winner returns to the All England Club next week as defending champion, but with the clock ticking.

The Swiss put his growing army of critics firmly in their place in 2012 when, after back-to-back quarter-final defeats, he captured his seventh Wimbledon title, equalling the record of Pete Sampras.

Federer, meanwhile, ended a 10-month title drought at the weekend when he won the Halle grasscourt tournament for the sixth time – it was his first piece of silverware since Cincinnati on the eve of the 2012 US Open.

That would have spiced up his confidence ahead of Wimbledon, but there are huge doubts over whether or not he can carry that spring in his elegant step onto the famous lawns of south-west London and be the first man to win Wimbledon eight times.

Age is a factor. Federer will be 32 in August while Sampras won the last of his Wimbledon titles as a 28-year-old in 2000.

An eighth victory for Federer next month would make him the second oldest champion at Wimbledon in the Open era, just behind Arthur Ashe who was six days short of his 32nd birthday when he triumphed in 1975.

Then there will be the all-important seedings which will be announced today where two-time champion Rafael Nadal, fresh from a record-breaking eighth French Open victory, is likely to be seeded five.

That could see Federer facing his old rival as early as the quarter-finals while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the runner-up last year, are potential semi-final opponents.

It's a far cry from 2003 when Federer won his first Wimbledon, two years after beating his great hero Sampras in the fourth round and 12 months after a reality-checking first round howler against Mario Ancic.

Back then, his quarter-final opponent was Sjeng Schalken while Andy Roddick, who he went on to beat in three finals, was overcome in the semi-finals before a straight sets win over Mark Philippousis, ranked 48, in the title match.

But Federer insists his mind is free of clutter ahead of Wimbledon, buoyed by the omens of Halle – he has completed the Halle-Wimbledon double four times already, between 2003 and 2006.

"It's totally different (than 2003)," he said. "Ten years ago I went into Wimbledon with so much pressure, even though I had lost in the first round the year before.

"In terms of needing to prove my point that I was a legitimate Grand Slam contender, I had incredible pressure. Now, ten years later, I know Wimbledon, I know Halle, I know my way around and what I need to do to perform well.

"I'm going in with pressure because I'm defending my title. There's always pressure because it's a privilege to play at Wimbledon and I want to do so well. I feel good right now and I hope I can show it on the court."

Federer has confronted doubts on many occasions in his career and faced them down with his trademark, cool self-confidence.

It's a rock-solid self-belief often interpreted as arrogance, a trait which has even spawned a parody Twitter account, @PseudoFed, which has over 20,000 followers.

On the site, he is lampooned as a man who employs lackeys to carry out routine jobs such as rolling his eyes for him.

The real Federer, who will be playing Wimbledon for a 15th time, was happy to roll his own eyes when more doubts were raised over his staying power in the aftermath of his French Open quarter-final defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

He is used to fielding the questions and giving his answers on court.

In the Roland Garros final in 2008, Nadal allowed him just four games in his worst Grand Slam humbling.

But he recovered from what could have been a shattering loss to win the 2008 US Open, 2009 French Open, 2009 Wimbledon, the Australian Open in 2010 and Wimbledon again last year. — AFP

Brazilian Massa looking ahead to team’s revival

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 05:07 PM PDT

LONDON: Brazilian driver Felipe Massa is looking forward to Formula One's upcoming return to traditional high-speed circuits as a boost for himself and Ferrari.

The 32-year-old, who has suffered a series of crashes in the races in Monaco and Canada, said he believed that tracks like Silverstone and the Nurburgring would help Ferrari close in on leaders Red Bull in the constructors' championship.

"I think Silverstone can be a bit better for us," explained Massa.

"The car was very strong in Barcelona and in China. Montreal was a completely different track compared to where next we are going – to Silverstone and Nurburgring, where you have a lot of lateral corners.

"There are a lot of medium and high-speed corners, so we will see. I think will be better on normal tracks."

Massa rejected the idea that Ferrari had fallen behind Red Bull in the season-long development war that now characterises modern Formula One.

The Italian outfit are on 145 points, 56 points behind Red Bull, whose German world champion Sebastian Vettel heads the overall drivers championship.

Instead, he said he felt that the last two races in Monaco and Canada were merely "blips" in their progress because of the nature of the circuits.

"I'm not very happy for what's happened to me recently – in Bahrain for the tyre, Monaco for the two crashes and in Canada with qualifying," he added.

"So, definitely I want to get to the next race with a lot of luck – good luck! – and show our potential every time in qualifying and in the race.

"I know we have the pace and that is important. We have to go and do it."

The British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone on June 30 while the German GP is at the Nurburgring on July 7. — AFP

V Shem-Khim Wah face tough opener in Singapore Open

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 04:33 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: It's probably the worst time to take on Indonesian's Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan but world No. 11 Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah are prepared for the challenge when the pair meet in the first round of the Singapore Open today.

Ahsan-Setiawan are Indonesia's doubles pair of the future. They are already ranked No. 13 in the world after coming together since October.

The duo are currently high on form having won the Indonesian Open last week and were All England semi-finalists back in March.

Ahsan-Setiawan are also one of the few pairs who have been the stumbling blocks to the explosive South Korean combination of Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae, having beaten them twice — in the finals of the Malaysian Open back in January and last week's Indonesian meet.

But V Shem-Khim Wah are not short of confidence either, having won the Malaysian Open GP Gold last month, and performed admirably during the Sudirman Cup in which they defeated Germany's Ingo Kindervater-Johannes Schoettler.

"Ahsan-Setiawan are playing really well and will be extra confident after they won the Indonesian Open," said V Shem.

"But we're not afraid of them and we're looking forward to playing them in the first round today. Hopefully we'll bring out our top game and pull off an upset over the more experienced Indonesians," added V Shem.

If V Shem-Khim Wah, who are seeded eighth in Singapore, can defeat Ahsan-Setiawan, they will face either Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata of Japan or Lee Sheng Mu-Tsia Chia Hsin of Taiwan in the second round.

If they can maintain their recent good form and reach the last eight, they will probably face second seeds Kenichi Hayakawa-Hiroyuki Endo of Japan, a pair whom they beat in the second round of the Korean Open in January.

Beside V Shem-Khim Wah, the other Malaysian pairs in the fray are Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock and the World Championship-bound Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari.

A fourth pair, backup shuttlers Ong Jian Guo-Teo Kok Siang, will join their compatriots in the main draw after surviving two tough qualifying matches.

They first overcame Singapore's Huang Chao-Derek Wong before beating another home pair Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Terry Yeo 18-21, 21-13, 21-14 in the qualifiers.

In women's doubles, the challenge will rest on the shoulders of top pair Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, who are up against Thailand's Puttita Supajirakul-Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the first round.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Inter-Pacific Research values AirAsia X at RM1.66

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:55 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Inter-Pacific Research Sdn Bhd values AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) at RM1.66 and it said the fair value implies an enterprise value per earnings before interests, taxes, depreciation and amotisation valuation of 9.5 times, above AirAsia Bhd's (AA) 8.0 times.

"We deem it to be justifiable due to AAX's unique positioning of being a long-haul low cost carrier (LCC)," it said.

It added AAX is unlikely to declare high dividends but its offer of unique payment-in-kind shareholder benefits for initial public offering subscribers would be sufficient to draw the interest of inaugural investors

It said AAX fares are 30%-50% cheaper than Full Service Carrieers (FSC) and to keep cost low, AAX has withdrawn some non-profitable routes like London, Paris, Mumbai, Delhi, Christchurch and Tehran

"Planes that flew these routes have since been redeployed to more profitable routes (increased frequencies) or are being wet leased. Management however highlighted the possibility that these routes will be restored," it said.

Inter-Pacific said AAX made losses in financial year 2011 but made a turnaround in financial year 2012.

"Its FY11 saw losses due to now-discontinued loss-making routes, as flights to New Zealand, India and Europe. Seat capacity was reduced in FY12, which effectively reduced scheduled flight revenues from RM1.4bil in FY11 to RM1.2bil in FY12.

"The reduction in scheduled flight revenue however was compensated by the increased fuel surcharges (which were reintroduced in Sep'11) from RM44.4mil to RM148.2mil. Net losses of RM96.7mil in FY11 turned into net profits of RM33.8mil in FY12," it said.

It added it expects the passenger load to grow but not exponentially due to competition and also a degree of market cannibalism from planned increased flight frequencies for existing routes.

"We impute low tax rates for AAX as it is currently benefits from Investment Allowance Tax exemption which allows 60% of its capex to be set off against 70% of its statutory income. The tax exemption will expire in 2014 but the possibility of an extension is high," it said.

It said AAX plans to increase frequencies to its existing routes as they believe these routes are still underserved and plans have been drawn for routes such as Adelaide in Australia, Nagoya and Fukuoka in Japan and Chongqing and Xian in China.

"It believes that any additional capacity will be absorbed by strong demand. Currently, AAX plans to increase frequencies to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Taipei later in FY13,' it said.

Inter-Pacific said AAX plans to operate its first new hub outside of Kuala Lumpur in Thailand via its associate, Thai AAX Co, to leverage on AA's and tap into feeder traffic emanating from Bangkok, currently the preeminent regional air traffic hub.

For its inaugural payment-in-kind benefits, it said those who subscibe 10,000-99,999 shares will be able to redeem annually one non-transferable ticket to any of AAX's destinations originating from Malaysia for three years, provided the shareholder continued to hold a minimum of 10,000 shares annually.

Those who subscribe more than 100,000 shares will be able to redeem 3X non-transferable tickets to AAX's destination originating from Malaysia for 3years, providing the shareholder continue to hold a minimum of 100,000 shares annually.

Affin Research maintains "Add" call on Berjaya Sports Toto

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:19 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday June 19, 2013 MYT 9:19:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Add" call on Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd with an unchanged target price of RM4.95.

"We estimate a maximum scenario of 50 sen bumper cash dividends in return for a 20.5% dilution resulting from a stake sale with the listing of STM Trust based on a potential market capitalisation of S$2.4bil (RM6.0bil)," it said.

It added despite a seasonally stronger Chinese New Year sales season, higher operation expenses and lower earnings stream from 88%-owned Berjaya Philippines led to a weak close for financial year 2013.

"Its 4Q13 core net profit fell 17.1% on-year and 12.1% on-quarter to RM75.6mil. This brings full year financial year 2013 core net profit, excluding a RM8.8mil disposal gain from a 17% equity stake in Casis Intl Pte Ltd, to RM376.2mil which is down 7.2% on-year," it said.

It added its 4Q13 revenue rose 1.6% on-year and 4.8% on-quarter to RM931mil due to higher sales during the Chinese New Year season.

"This helped offset weaker sales from 88%-owned Berjaya Philippines. Despite the topline growth, 4Q13 earnings before interest and tax fell 10.3% on-year and 13.4% on-quarter," it said.

KLCI opens higher, Genting up

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:18 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The firmer overnight close on Wall Street gave investors reason to nibble on Malaysian equities on Wednesday while technical wise, the outlook for the FBM KLCI remains favourable.

At 9.03am, the KLCI was up 4.58 points to 1,778.63. Turnover was 47.30 million shares valued at RM21.23mil. There were 151 gainers, 44 losers and 127 counters unchanged.

BIMB Securities Research said it expects a volatile market again today with immediate resistance at 1775/90 and immediate support at 1765/60.

Recapping Tuesday's market performance, the research house said the KLCI had opened in red on Tuesday at 1,769.58 or 2.59 points below the previous close.

It pointed out sentiments were biased toward negative in the morning with the index traded underwater most of the time. Buying interest surfaced in the afternoon which allowed the index to stays in positive region until the end of the day.

"Technical wise, outlook remains favourable with the index sustained at above the 9 100 intervals SMAs. It is now just one point below the 200 intervals SMA where a breakthrough would bring more optimism to the market and possibly led the index to a new high level.

"Both the MACD and ADX indicators maintain optimistic over the local market outlook now," said BIMB Research.

Petronas Gas rose 38 sen to RM21.48 while Genting Bhd added 10 sen to RM10.40.

Among the consumer stocks, Dutch Lady added 36 sen to RM47.90, Carlsberg 18 sen to RM15.80 while among the banks, HL Bank gained 10 sen to RM13.90 and H:FG eight sen higher to RM14.32.

Favelle Favco added 11 sen to RM2.83 as investors were upbeat on the crane manufacturer's prospects.

Aeon Credit continued to advance, rising 12 sen to RM17.60. The company is in the midst of working out a plan to increase its capital base.


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DiCaprio to play money mogul in new Scorsese film

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 12:19 AM PDT

Scorsese's new hotly-anticipated film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, has just dropped its first trailer.

Paramount Pictures offers a glimpse of one of the highlights of its end-of-year lineup. Two years after his family film digression Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese has teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio again in this roguish film based on the memoirs of infamous stock broker Jordan Belfort.

Pitched as a thriller, then as a drama, The Wolf Of Wall Street ultimately looks to be more of a satirical comedy about Wall Street in the 1990 boom years, to judge from the stills released by Paramount Pictures.

In the trailer, DiCaprio tears down the fourth wall to show us the life of Belfort, the money-driven kingpin of an investment firm who eventually fell afoul of the law, got arrested in 1998, and served 22 months in jail for manipulating the stock market and running a boiler room. Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill stand out as well in this colorful clip.

The Wolf Of Wall Street is due out in North America on November 15. This feature is bound to be a frontrunner in the competition for the Oscars in 2014.


A taste of Kollywood

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 01:04 AM PDT

New Tamil movie Krishna Thulasi is the result of a Malaysia-India collaboration.

Malaysian and Kollywood actors band together to star in a heartwarming family movie called Krishna Thulasi. Filmed in several locations in India including Kerala, Chennai and Pondicherry, as well as in Kuala Lumpur, this Tamil movie offers a little bit of comedy, romance and drama.

It is produced by local production companies SSK Resources and Nobel Entertainment. This is SSK's pilot project in exploring ventures in the Indian film industry.

At the movie's official launch in KL recently, producer L.D. Saravanan said, "I have produced a lot of local movies and have never ventured into the international market. But after developing good ties with some of the producers and movie makers in India, I decided to take on this challenge.

"We have to somehow find a way to bring Malaysia into the international market and this seemed like a great opportunity."

He added that while shooting the film, the cast and crew had to travel back and forth India and Malaysia. This brought everyone closer together. "It helped us understand each other's backgrounds and cultures. We formed a good working team between us," said Saravanan.

The lead character in Krishna Thulasi – Jayanth – is played by Shures Sharma, a Malaysian actor.

"This is my first time ever working on a movie, so it really was a great challenge as well as a good experience. For one, I don't know how to dance and it's almost 'illegal' to not have at least one dance scene in a Tamil movie!" said Shures.

"I was placed under vigorous training and was on my feet for three weeks in a row learning the moves," the charismatic actor added.

He also revealed that his voice was dubbed over in the movie and said that he is looking forward to learn the Tamil language further and hopes to become more fluent in it.

"I was educated in a Malaysian school, therefore my intonation and language skills are not perfect, even though I speak Tamil rather fluently."

Despite all that, though, Shures said he enjoyed himself immensely and will be working on his second movie which starts shooting next month in Chennai, India. After trying his skills at a family movie, Shures will now attempt to do a thriller.

Krishna Thulasi was directed by first-time director Uma Riyaz Khan, an Indian actress who has starred in a number of television programmes and movies. The movie also stars Sanam, Ilavarasu, Barath Kalyan, Kavithalayaa Krishnan, Sonia Vickneswary and Devi.

Krishna Thulasi runs for 105 minutes and contains two songs – the sentimental Pokkal Unthiren and fast-paced Dola Dola – by music director Vedala Hemachandran.

It revolves around Thulasi, the beautiful wife of Krishna who does a lot of charity work. However, in spite of her wonderful life, Thulasi is unable to conceive, and feels depressed by it. Things start to get worse for Thulasi when her brother-in-law's problems inadvertently become hers.

Krishna Thulasi is now showing in cinemas nationwide and will be released in India next month.

Beware of film industry implosion

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 01:04 AM PDT

Hollywood veterans Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have sparked a debate by warning of an "implosion" of the traditional movie industry, amid soaring budgets and competition from cable TV.

E.T. and Jurassic Park legend Spielberg revealed that he almost failed to get his Oscar-winning political biopic Lincoln into theatres last year.

Star Wars icon Lucas warned that access for films to be released into theatres is "getting smaller and smaller" and said cable television has become much more adventurous.

"I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they're going to be on television," Lucas said at the opening of a new interactive media building at the University of Southern California last week.

"As mine almost was," Spielberg interjected at the event, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "This close – ask HBO – this close."

Lucas added: "We're talking Lincoln and Red Tails (a 2012 film which Lucas executive produced) – we barely got them into theatres. You're talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can't get their movie into a theatre."

Spielberg said some young filmmakers' ideas were "too fringe-y for the movies," adding: "That's the big danger, and there's eventually going to be an implosion – or a big meltdown.

"There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm," he said. – AFP


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Penang freak storm: Prayer held at Jln Macalister for Lim Chin Aik

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 08:42 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Repair works at Jalan Macalister here were halted for 30 minutes Tuesday to make way for a prayer ceremony for economy rice seller Lim Chin Aik, who is presumed buried in a crater following a storm last Thursday.

Chin Aik's family and priests arrived near the site around 9.10pm and set up a prayer table at an open area beside Menara Umno.

The victim's younger brother, Khung Ling, 43, was among the five priests conducting the prayer.

There was a portrait of Chin Aik on the table.

Chin Aik's mother Ang Kim Looi, 70, was also present. However, his wife Lee Chai Song, 48, did not attend the ceremony.

According to Khung Ling, who is a follower of the Dalai Lama's teachings, the ritual was a "sin-cleansing prayer".

"We hope that with our prayer, his sins will be forgiven and he will be able to follow the Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy).

"The prayer will only be held here once tonight (Tuesday). We will continue our prayers at home after this," Khung Ling added.

The search for Chin Aik's body had to be called off and an inquest is being carried out to certify his death, to provide closure to the family.

Chin Aik, 44, is believed to be buried seven metres under the rubble, following the collapse of a lightning arrestor from Menara Umno after the freak storm.

The impact of the structure's fall also killed Indian national Jahir Hussain Sulaiman, 46.

Related Stories:
Penang freak storm: Cops get CCTV footage of Jln Macalister in probe to see how Lim Chin Aik died
Penang freak storm: Menara Umno owner given 7 days to submit safety report
Penang freak storm: Architect: force that hit Lim's car would crush anything
Penang freak storm: Family grieves as search gets called off
Penang freak storm: Search called off for sake of heritage buildings
Penang freak storm: I saw his spirit, he was crying'
Penang freak storm: Inquest to be held to certify death of missing hawker

Boy dies while sliding down school staircase railing

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:43 AM PDT

BATU PAHAT: A seven-year-old boy died after he fell while sliding down the railing of the staircase at a school in Parit Raja on Monday.

It is learnt that Muhamad Khairul Hakimi Ab Gani, a Year Two pupil, was trying to slide down from the second floor at SK Parit Raja at 3pm.

District deputy police chief Supt Mat Razali Awang said police were investigating for sudden death.

The boy suffered severe head injuries, he said.

Immigration officer chides UNHCR staff for delaying court process

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:30 AM PDT

SEPANG: An immigration officer chided staff of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for interfering in the department's work at the Sessions Court.

Kuala Lumpur enforcement chief James Musa Singa said the UNHCR staff were in the court to check on UNHCR cards of the accused before they were brought into the courtroom, thus delaying the court process.

"The organisation can interfere while the case is still under investigation or before it is brought to the Attorney-General's Chambers," Musa told The Star.

He said the department received many complaints about Myanmmar nationals making it look as if the department had not been carrying out its duties to overcome the problem.

"We are tired of being accused by the public for not doing anything," he said.

In the court, 131 Myanmmar nationals were jailed three months' each for entering the country without valid UNHCR cards.

Sessions judge Norhayati Mohamad Yunus meted out the sentence after the men, aged between 19 and 55, pleaded guilty to the charge.

The offence under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 (amended 2002) carries a fine of not more than RM10,000 or a jail term of not more than five years and whipping.

Another Myanmmar national, Maung Ko Ko Naing, and Indonesian Chin Jun Lie, both 32, were jailed four months each after they admitted to overstaying.

Four other Myanmmar nationals claimed trial saying that they have the UNHCR cards. The court later fixed July 8 for mention.


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Diving deep into childhood

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 04:57 AM PDT

One of our favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, releases his first book for adults since 2005 today. To share our happiness, we're offering not only a review of the book but also a coupon that will get you a 25% discount.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow, 181 pages

CHILDHOOD memories are odd things: episodes that shine vividly in our minds may in fact not have happened as we remember them at all, while other moments, long faded into obscurity, may have in fact had a significant impact on us.

It is with these delicate remembrances that Neil Gaiman weaves the fabric of his latest novel, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, a dark, melancholic and yet often surprisingly beautiful tale about the very different worlds we live in as adults and children.

A middle-aged man returns to the house he grew up in, and finds himself drawn to a farmhouse down the lane, a place he remembers only vaguely. He sits down on a bench by a duck pond at the farm, and the faint echoes of memories start to stir in him.

Memories of his lonely, bookish seven-year-old self, and of the girl – Lettie Hempstock – who used to live in the farmhouse with her mother and grandmother, and of her telling him the pond was actually an ocean. And along with these, recollections of a series of events that are simultaneously too horrifying to remember yet too magical to forget.

It may be a novel about childhood, but there is certainly nothing childish or playful about Ocean. Unlike the ribald humour of Gaiman's last book for adults, Anansi Boys (2006), the magical absurdism of Stardust (1999), or the ironic wit of Neverwhere (1996), Ocean is actually more akin in tone to the introspective American Gods (2001), also written for an adult audience.

It begins with a quote by children's author Maurice Sendak: "I remember my own childhood vividly ... I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." This is precisely what the book is about, that unbridgeable distance between how children and the adults around them see the world.

Gaiman captures the sensations of childhood perfectly, intentionally employing tropes that are familiar to us from a variety of sources.

The protagonist's feasts of fresh milk, honeycomb and porridge at the Hempstock farm are pure Enid Blyton, while his fantastical adventures with Lettie have shades of both Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are and Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland. Other moments of him being trapped in his own room are straight out of slasher horror movies, while certain descriptions of some not-quite-human characters even bring to mind Hayao Miyazaki's animated film Spirited Away.

While this is Gaiman's first full-length novel since Anansi Boys in 2005, Ocean actually feels more like a novella, or perhaps even a fable: short, focused, and over too soon. And like all great stories, I wanted more; more of the delightful and mysterious Hempstocks, more of the shadowy world Gaiman gives us a glimpse into, and certainly, more of his lyrical, haunting prose.

The genius of the writing in Ocean is that Gaiman writes through a seven-year-old's eyes, and yet never lets us forget the adult man recalling these memories. As the tale unfolds, child becomes man, but the man also becomes the child. Similarly, his memories feed his present, but at the same time, the present eats away at his memories.

But most of all, what sticks with you and awakens your own memories, are his descriptions of that utter loneliness that comes when you realise, as a child, that no adult is going to see beneath the veneer of reality into all the darkness and magic and horror that you know exists in the world. Balancing this out, however, is his development of the relationship between Lettie and the young narrator, a testament to the unquestioning trust and belief children are capable of.

And as you wade deeper and deeper into this mesmerising tale Gaiman has conceived, you can't help but sink into your own feelings of nostalgia, of that time when the world was more than just one place, when a pond could also be an ocean.


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Selangor folk say direct representation will protect their interests

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:36 AM PDT

THE conclusion of GE13 has once again brought the topic of representation from residents at local councils, to the fore.

For years, residents have asked for the right to be made councillors due to ­— among others — their unhappiness with projects approved by councils.

They feel left out and are often caught unawares when big projects near their homes are announced, leaving them with no room to object.

However, councillor seats are often shared between political appointees and NGOs that more often than not, have partisan affiliations too.

*Full story in your copy of The Star today

Deep concern over manhole in Taman Mutiara 2

Posted: 18 Jun 2013 06:36 AM PDT

RESIDENTS want action taken immediately to repair a manhole in Jalan Mutiara 2, Taman Mutiara 2 in Rawang as sewage water has been spilling out into nearby drains for over a year.

Residents had complained to the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) and IWK but no action has been taken to-date.

New Greenpark MIC chairman M.B Raja had lodged several reports with MPS on behalf of residents but said they had been ignored.

Raja said IWK was represented at MPS full board meeting and even their office was in the council building.

"Sewage water has been spilling out and flowing into the nearby drain for more than a year.

"This water might have eventually ended up in the river and be treated for drinking consumption.

"Besides this, the manhole is located in the middle of the road and it poses a hazard to motorcyclists.

"This road and the surrounding area is not adequately lit at night as some streetlights are not functioning.

"The manhole looks like it could be a metre-deep after I tested the depth by placing a bamboo stick into it.

"It can also pose a threat to children who play at the basketball court and field nearby,'' said Raja, who lives less than 100m away from the manhole.

When contacted, IWK communications senior manager Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman said the company would check on the complaint and determine if the sewage system there was under the consortium's maintenance list.


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Southern region waste management authorities purchase new vehicles

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 03:54 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: SWM Environment Sdn Bhd (SWM), the concessionaire for solid waste management in the southern region, is set to improve its services with the purchase of 700 vehicles and machines.

Its chief operating officer Ho De Leong said the vehicles had been delivered in stages to SWM operation grounds in Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.

Among the new vehicles and machines purchased were compactor trucks, road sweepers, ultra whacks, water jets and beachcombers.

"We are committed in providing quality services in line with changing times," Ho said in a statement.

Ho said the purchase of compactor trucks complete with bin lifter system and automated system were according to the specification fixed by Solid Waste and Public Cleaning Management Corporation.

"Besides, the new trucks can prevent wastewater from leaking out on to the road which would cause bad odors.

"The truck also has larger junk storage space than the old ones and can carry more garbage," he said.

The road sweeper would help to sweep the garbage on the streets to its tank faster and it could cover larger area and helpful in cleaning busy roads in the cities, he said.

Ultra Whack is a drainage cleaning equipment that could clear clogged drains by removing all kinds of garbage, he added.

Ho also said that with the latest facilities, the company hoped it would effectively improve public cleanliness and garbage collection services as well as health and safety of its workers.

"I also hope that members of public will cooperate by throwing garbage into bins provided at designated areas, practice waste segregation and recycling to reduce solid waste send to landfills.

"We can reduce at least 20% to 30% of waste send to landfills if everyone practice waste segregation and recycling.

"Garbage sent to landfills is growing every year and we are facing problems of finding suitable sites for landfills," he said.

Ho added that in order to increase civic awareness the company was undertaking 3R (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) education by constantly reminding the people on reducing waste and increase recycling.

"Hopefully the initiative will help our future generations to live a green and sustainable life," he said.

For more information on solid waste management and public cleanliness, contact toll free number at 1-800-88-7472.

Kota Kinabalu residents stories told in performance

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 05:59 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: Art lovers are in for a treat this month with the staging of three theatre performances at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Auditorium along Likas Bay in Kota Kinabalu.

The theatre themed "Talking Sabah" directed by Green Leaf Theatre House will showcase three stories focusing on issues surrounding residents in the Kota Kinabalu city area.

Theatre house founder Hazli Ali Zapar said the project was a compilation from a recent three-day workshop done with communities within Kota Kinabalu.

"The workshop is actually our experimental project with Partners of the Community Organisation Sabah and Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu, where we tried to get the people of a particular area to come and talk to us about issues their community's are facing and tell it in a performance," he said.

The workshop led to the creation of three stories entitled "castle of glass', "the climb", and "Begituka?" which will be staged for two days on June 28 and 29 with a total performing period of an hour and 15 minutes.

"Castle of Glass" is a play aimed at challenging stereotypes and perceptions of vulnerable girls.

It is a story of 15-year-old Mimi and her mother who had always been close to each other, until the death of her father which forces Mimi's mum to become a workaholic in order to provide a good life and future for her.

Feeling neglected and lonely, Mimi thought she found her Prince Charming only to realise too late that it was all a sham.

"The Climb" on the other hand is a tale of two people from different walks of life but shared common roots which subsequently leads to a question of cultural and personal identity.

The performance will be set in a futuristic Sabah where people are dominated by technology and old traditions were things of the past.

The last story is an abstract performance highlighting the story of land rights of indigenous community – an issue that has been causing dilemma among villagers and developers in Sabah.

Police advise recreationalists to take adequate precautions on trips

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 03:54 PM PDT

BENTONG: Members of the public planning to make trips into lesser known waterfalls or remote recreational sites are urged to alert the authorities before hand.

OCPD Supt Mansor Mohd Nor said a recent drowning incident saw a precious young life lost due to their lack of preparedness and information on the site.

"My advice to any groups or individuals embarking on a leisure outing is to do the necessary preparations.

"With adequate information and high level of alertness, untoward incidents could be prevented," he said.

Supt Mansor said basic historical information on most recreational sites could be obtained from the relevant agencies such as Forestry Department or its branch offices.

He said the public should not rely entirely on information posted on the Internet or from their peers.

"In addition, groups or individuals trekking and spending the night in such sites should inform the nearest police station before entering and after exiting.

"This would enable the authorities to keep track of their whereabouts and launch an operation promptly should a tragedy occur," he said.

Supt Mansor said situation in such sites were unpredictable due to weather change and existence of sudden strong undercurrents.

He said during bad weather conditions, the public should refrain from proceeding with their planned outing.

"Safety must be the top priority regardless if you are a good swimmer or experienced trekker," he said.

Earlier this month, tragedy struck a group of eight friends who went for an outing at the Lata Hammer recreation centre in Batu Tujuh near here.

One of them drowned but not before he rescued two of his friends who were facing difficulties due to a sudden strong undercurrent.

The remains of the victim, aged 22, was found by search and rescue workers on the following day.


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