Ahad, 14 Julai 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


Suicides highest among those in their 50s

Posted:

PEOPLE aged 50 to 59 made up the largest proportion of suicide victims in Singapore last year, new figures show.

Last year, 57 men and 38 women in this age group took their lives.

There was also a worrying rise in suicides among people in their 60s and older.

"Those in their 50s experience significant life changes," said Gleneagles Hospital psychiatrist Adrian Wang.

"They might be retrenched or have their jobs taken over by younger colleagues or they might experience the empty-nest syndrome when children leave home. Marriages might also take a turn for the worse because of these factors."

Multiple stress points could trigger depression and lead to suicide if the person cannot cope, he added.

People in their 50s have been among the top three age groups with the most suicides for four of the past five years. Suicide numbers among those aged 40 to 49 have also been significant.

Two out of three among all who killed themselves last year were men. Professor Kua Ee Heok, senior consultant psychiatrist at the National University Health System (NUHS) said men who live alone, have money problems and have poor social support are more prone to ending their lives.

Dr Alex Su, chief of general psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, said male rates have traditionally been higher because when they attempt suicide they use more extreme methods with a higher likelihood of guaranteeing death.

As for women, relationship problems are often a cause for depression.

Rachel Lee, assistant director of Fei Yue Community Services, said: "Many women in their 40s and 50s come to us with marital issues. It could be a combination of relationship problems and physical changes like menopause. Those with good support or fulfilling relationships with their friends or children tend to cope better."

The total number of suicides hit at least a 20-year high at 467 last year, national statistics show. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Jakarta caves in to prisoners' demand

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JAKARTA: The Indonesian Government is to evaluate a 2012 government regulation on remissions believed to have triggered a prison riot in Medan.

Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said he had met inmates at Tanjung Gusta Peniten­tiary after the Thursday riot that left five people dead, including two prison guards, and led to more than 200 inmates escaping.

During the meeting, he said prisoners complained about the regulation, which imposed stricter remission requirements on drug, graft and terror convicts.

"We will review the regulation," the minister said, adding the prison's protest might represent inmates' discontent over the new policy.

President Susilo Bambang Yud­hoyono has ordered his aides to issue supporting regulations on the implementation of the new remission policy to avoid confusion.

It is alleged that about 1,700 drug convicts or about 65% of the total number of inmates at the penitentiary were upset they would no longer get sentence remissions and decided to incite a riot.

The regulation, however, only applies to drug dealers, not all drug convicts, the government said.

The regulation, aimed to serve as a deterrent to terror, graft and drug convicts, has long been a subject of controversy. Critics claim that it violates the rights of inmates and also contradicts higher laws.

Noted lawyer and former law and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, representing several high-profile graft suspects, has challenged the regulation through the Supreme Court, arguing it contradicts the 1995 Penitentiary Law and the 1999 Human Rights Law.

A thorough police investigation will be launched to determine both the motive behind the riot in the maximum security penitentiary – whether it was due to blackouts and water stoppages only, or also to the new remission policy – and whether it was planned or spontaneous.

Djoko said that as of Saturday morning, the police had recaptured 94 inmates, including five convicted terrorists, and were still hunting down the remaining 118 escapees.

A total of 212 inmates, not 240 as earlier claimed, including nine terrorists, escaped from the prison while a fire raged following the riot.

Djoko said Amir has ordered prison guards in other prisons to anticipate similar occurrences, as the incident highlights a nationwide overcapacity problem.

There are currently 160,000 prisoners across the country, making a national average of 150% overcapacity, with one guard for 50 every prisoners against the ideal 1:5 ratio, Amir's deputy, Denny Indrayana, said recently.

"The president has also instructed extra money should be allocated if the 1 trillion rupiah (RM300mil) earmarked for the establishment of new penitentiaries since 2010 is not enough," Djoko stated after a limited Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the air base led by Susilo immediately after he landed from a work visit to Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.

Susilo slammed his ministers for being late in issuing an official statement, saying that the lack of a statement might "give an impression of omission or that steps have not been taken".

Susilo told the ministers he learnt about the incident from foreign television channels and social media like Twitter and Facebook. — Jakarta Post /Asia News Network

Manila and rebels closer to ending rebellion

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MANILA: The Philippines said it has clinched a key "wealth-sharing" deal with Muslim rebels, bringing it closer to ending a decades-old rebellion that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the government was cautiously optimistic of a final peace pact within weeks after the compromise deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) late Saturday following six days of gruelling talks.

"This signing indicates that both sides are really committed to finish the peace negotiations. Nobody wants this not to reach its fruition," Ferrer said after the wealth-sharing formula was signed.

Under the deal, the government has agreed to let the rebels have a 75% share of earnings from natural resources and metallic minerals in a proposed autonomous region for the Muslim minority in the southern Mindanao region, Ferrer said.

For energy resources, both sides agreed to split earnings equally, following the talks hosted Malaysia.

"We are always optimistic, but that is always guided by a good sense of possibilities and constraints of our situation," she said.

The government had initially bargained for a bigger share of the wealth, arguing that it wanted a deal that could withstand legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

Ferrer said a final peace deal with the 12,000-MILF could be signed after Ramadan.

The MILF has waged a guerilla war for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao since the 1970s that has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives.

President Benigno Aquino's government and the MILF signed a preliminary deal in October outlining the broad terms for a peace treaty that is expected to be signed before he ends his six-year term in 2016.

Ferrer, however, noted yesterday that both sides still had to agree on a formula over how to disarm the rebels as well as the extent of the powers of the autonomous region.

MILF vice-chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar said the group expected a "more contentious" round of negotiations ahead.

"The MILF fighters will not disarm unless clear conditions and terms for their safety are met," Jaafar said.

"There must also be an assurance the fighters will be free from harassment from troops once they are disarmed, if ever."

He said the rebels had originally wanted at least a 60-40 sharing scheme over energy resources, which include natural gas believed abundant in the south.

Meanwhile, Ferrer warned that failure to reach a pact could be used by the small, violent break-away faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as a justification to sow further violence.

"A failure of the agreement can by used by groups like the BIFF who do not want the process to succeed - who say nothing will happen in these negotiations – to agitate for war, and continue use of violence," she said. — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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Japan PM Shinzo Abe on track for hefty election win - polls

Posted:

TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc remains on track for a big win in Sunday's upper house election, final surveys before the vote showed on Monday, a victory that would likely help end six years of parliamentary deadlock.

The surveys showed support for Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) far outstrips other parties, buoyed by hopes that his hyper-easy monetary policy, public spending and structural reform will bolster growth and jolt Japan out of years of stagnation.

Voter preference polls taken on Saturday and Sunday and published by the Asahi and Mainichi dailies showed that 37 to 43 percent of voters wanted to vote for the LDP. Such support meant that, along with coalition partner the New Komeito, the LDP would likely win a majority in the upper house.

It would also spell an end to the "twisted parliament" in which the opposition controls the upper house, hampering policy implementation, even if Abe's commitment to growth-generating and potentially painful reforms such as deregulation remains in doubt.

Monday's surveys showed 8 percent of respondents wanted to vote for the New Komeito, ahead of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) with 7 percent. Around a third of those surveyed did not support any party, and voter turn-out was expected to be low.

Japan has suffered parliamentary gridlock ever since Abe led the LDP to a massive defeat in a 2007 upper house vote. He quit abruptly two months later due to the deadlock, plummeting support and ill health.

The DPJ faced a similar headache after sweeping to power in 2009, only to lose a 2010 upper house election.

The hawkish Abe, 58, returned to power in December for a rare second term after the LDP-led bloc handsomely won a December election for parliament's powerful lower house. The coalition, however, has since lacked a majority in the upper chamber, which can block legislation.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Paul Tait)

Thousands protest Zimmerman verdict

Posted:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of demonstrators demanding "Justice for Trayvon" marched in major cities across the United States on Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

While a jury of six women absolved Zimmerman of any crime with their not-guilty verdict, civil rights leaders decried the decision, and demonstrators took to the streets in New York, Boston, San Francisco and other cities.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for a peaceful response to the case that has polarized the U.S. public over the past 16 months. In general, the demonstrations were peaceful, though the New York march became disorderly at times.

Defence lawyers argued that Martin, 17, attacked Zimmerman, who shot the teen in self-defence. Prosecutors said Zimmerman, 29, who is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin, 17, of being a criminal because he was black.

Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious looking person, then left his car with a fully loaded Kel Tec 9mm pistol concealed in his waistband. A fight ensued in which Zimmerman suffered a bloody nose and head injuries, and Zimmerman shot Martin once in the heart, killing him.

"Trayvon was profiled, pursued and ultimately killed because of the colour of his skin," said Angela Tovar, 33, an urban planner from Brooklyn.

About 1,000 to 2,000 of the demonstrators abandoned the protest site at Union Square to march in the streets toward Times Square, slowing or stopping traffic.

Police attempted to funnel the crowd into controlled lanes but were unable to. Later they halted the march about eight blocks short of Times Square, but the demonstrators made their way around the officers.

About 1,000 people sat in Times Square, drawing curious looks from the tourists who packed the so-called Crossroads of the World.

The protest was lively, led by several men on bullhorns.

In Boston, about 500 racially mixed protesters left their demonstration site in the Roxbury neighbourhood and started marching in the streets alongside police escorts on motorcycle and on foot. Police called the march "very orderly."

"Morally it cannot be right, that a child cannot go about his business and go to the store," said Maura Twomey, 57, an acupuncturist. "Racism is not just an issue for the black community. It's for all of us."

Demonstrators raised signs saying "We Demand Justice," "Stop Racial Profiling" and "Never Forget. Never Again. Justice for Trayvon."

Roughly 500 people rallied on the streets of San Francisco, some carrying yellow signs with Martin's photo. About a dozen police motorcycles and vans trailed the tidy group of marchers, who banged on drums as they walked and continuously chanted, "Justice for Trayvon Martin."

"I feel a moral obligation to be in the street and object to this kind of racist policy," said Naomi White, 69, a retired teacher from San Francisco. "George Zimmerman got away with murder."

(Additional reporting by Adrees Latif in New York, Ross Kerber in Boston and; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

Detained Iranian diplomat released on bail after four months

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A senior Iranian diplomat linked to Iran's reformists was released from a Tehran prison on bail on Sunday after four months in detention, sources familiar with the case said.

Bagher Asadi, who has been a senior diplomat at Iran's U.N. mission in New York and was recently a director at the secretariat of the so-called D8 group of developing nations in Istanbul, was arrested in mid-March in the Iranian capital, the sources told Reuters in April.

The same sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that an Iranian media report published on Sunday about Asadi's release was accurate. They said it remained unclear why he was arrested in the first place and what the status is of the case against him.

The sources said they doubted Asadi's release from prison represented a move by Iranian authorities to relax what analysts and Western diplomats have described as a crackdown on dissidents in Iran ahead of the June presidential election.

Tehran's U.N. mission responded to a request for comment by referring Reuters to a report on Asadi's release by Iran's ISNA student news agency.

The 61-year-old diplomat was held at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison in solitary confinement for months and without access to a lawyer for his entire detention, the sources told Reuters.

Iran's reformists were sidelined after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative former mayor of Tehran, won the presidential election in 2005, replacing reformist Mohammad Khatami. The sources said Asadi's arrest may have been linked to the pre-election crackdown on dissidents.

Ahmadinejad will step down soon. Hassan Rohani, a pragmatic conservative widely seen as a relative moderate, won last month's vote.

In January 2004, Asadi wrote an opinion piece that ran in The New York Times in which he made clear his affinities with the reformist philosophy of Khatami, who was president at the time.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Asadi in 2003 to a panel of eminent persons on U.N. relations with civil society.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Affin Reseach maintains "Buy" on Sunway, target price RM4.01

Posted:

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Buy" rating on Sunway Bhd with an adjusted target price of RM4.01 from RM4.66 and view Sunway as an attractive proxy to Iskandar.

"Key re-rating catalysts are stronger-than-expected property sales, further news flow on private investment in Iskandar and the listing of Iskandar Waterfront Holding," it said.

It said Sunway's proposed rights issue went ex-date last Thursday and the trading of the rights will commence on Tuesday.

'To recap, Sunway had in April 2013 proposed to undertake a 1-for-3 rights issue (RM1.70 per right share), of which the proceeds raised will be used to repay borrowings and fund working capital.

"Under the proposal, Sunway will issue up to 568.7 million of rights share, depending on the numbers of ESOS and warrant conversions. Based on its issued share base of 1.29 billion shares, we estimate Sunway will raise RM732.5mil from the issuance of 430.9 million new shares," it said.

Affin said it is an important exercise to strengthen the group's balance sheet, thereby in a stronger position to fund its future capex program, where Sunway currently has the highest gearing among developers under the Affin's coverage.

"Sunway achieved a weaker but commendable first half 2013 property sales of RM550mil, a 18.4% drop on-year. The group's first half year's property sales was, in our view, commendable considering Sunway did not launch any new projects in first half 2013," it said.

It added moving into the second half of 2013, Sunway has lined up over RM1bil worth of domestic property launches and expects the group's property sales to pick up strongly.

Tags / Keywords: Investing

KLCI opens three points lower on China's GDP announcement

Posted:

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian bourse kicked off Monday more than three points lower as investors are jittery on China's announcement of its second quarter gross domestic product today, which is expected to direct the market movement.

At 9.06am, the FBM KLCI fell 3.16 points to 1,782.49. Turnover was 56.06 million valued at RM34.474mil. There were 110 gainers, 69 losers and 121 counters unchanged.

HwangDBS Vickers Research said there is a chance for the key FBM KLCI to pull away a bit more from the 1,785 resistance line today.

"On the chart, the benchmark FBM KLCI may be making its way towards the psychological mark of 1,800 anytime soon.

"Over on Wall Street last Friday, major US equity bellwethers ended between flat and +0.6% amid expectations that the Federal Reserve would maintain its monetary stimulus policy," it said.

Reuters reported Asian stocks were flat on Monday even after another robust performance on Wall Street, while commodities and major currencies were subdued as investors kept to the sidelines ahead of fresh economic data from China.

China's GDP growth is expected to have slowed to 7.5% from 7.7% in the second quarter on a year earlier, as weak overseas demand hit output and investment.

At Bursa Malaysia, blue chips were the losers with Sime Darby down 12 sen to RM9.38 and AFG 10 sen to RM5.45.

Axiata lost six sen to RM6.76 and Maxis four sen to RM6.81.

Puncak Niaga rose 13 sen to RM2.44, Kumpulan Darul Ehsan seven sen to RM1.76 and TimeCom five sen to RM3.95.

Affin Research maintains "Buy" on SapuraKencana

Posted:

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Buy" call on SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd (SKP) with an unchanged target price of RM4.62 for its strong earnings growth, strong management track record, integrated business model, extensive oil and gas asset base and growing global footprint.

It said SKP announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Crest Tender Rigs Pte Ltd has been awarded a contract for the provision of tender assist rig services by PTTEP International Limited.

"PTTEP intends to use SKP's tender assist rig SKD T-9 for its Zawtika development drilling campaign offshore Myanmar.

"The contract value is US$40mil (RM128mil), commencing July 2013 for a period of 300 days," it said.

However Affin said it is neutral on the contract win as the daily charter rate of US$133,300 (RM423,294) is comparable to the previous charter rate of US$132,000 (RM419,166), of which, Petronas Carigali was the client.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls

Posted:

AS the title of this book is so intentionally attention-seeking, we might as well deal with it first. The book, of course, has nothing to do with diabetes and little to do with owls (other than a stuffed one) and certainly nothing to do with owls with diabetes or discussions with owls about diabetes. So the title exists purely to catch attention, catch the reader off-guard and provoke curiosity. Which is perhaps not a bad summary of what David Sedaris is trying to achieve with this latest collection of essays and short pieces, many of which have appeared already in The New Yorker magazine.

If I were to pick one word to describe Sedaris's world view, it would probably be "quirky". He delights in being something of a misfit, an outsider looking in, and is from time to time brutally honest about his failings and idiosyncrasies. Sometimes they even made me laugh.

Sedaris is a comic writer and I had better admit from the start that comic writing has always been for me a very hit-and-miss affair. I have laughed my way through Spike Milligan's Puckoon, frequently quote some lovely lines from Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men In A Boat and maintain to this day that A.A. Milne's Winnie-The-Pooh is one of the sharpest and funniest books ever written (together with those other childhood classics, the Just William books, but no-one, alas, reads them any more). But a book that sets out to make me laugh would probably never be near the top of my list. And perhaps it's just me, but despite occasional flashes of brilliance, nothing in Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls would make me want to change my mind.

First piece up is "Dentists Without Borders", the title no doubt intended as an echo of Médecin Sans Frontièrs (Doctors Without Borders), that wonderful French charity that works indiscriminately on the frontline of warzones the world over. This is not about a war zone, however; it's about Sedaris's trip to his French dentist. It starts promisingly enough with his summary of the American view of European healthcare as one "where patients languished on filthy cots waiting for aspirin to be invented".

I also liked his sharp exchange with his doctor over "a thunderbolt bisecting my left eyeball": "Where did it come from?" he asks. "How do we get most things?" the doctor replies. "We buy them?" quips Sedaris. Now this is not side-splittingly funny but it is nicely left-field, an unexpected response that catches both doctor and reader off-guard. But overall, this is a piece that could have pursued in depth and with wit the American/European divide over attitudes to health ("being American I want bigger names for things. I also expect a bit more gravity") but descends into a much more mundane and straightforward account of implants.

Like many comedians, Sedaris is happy to milk his childhood, his home circumstances, his sexual preferences (he is gay) and his partner for material.

Thus in "A Friend In The Ghetto", a chance telephone cold call comes from "some overseas call centre.... The man spoke with an accent, and though I couldn't exactly place it, I knew that he was poor. His voice had snakes in it. And dysentery, and mangoes". This quickly morphs into an account of his teenage desire to ask out on a date a poor, black, overweight girl from the wrong side of town because ... well, because she is those things rather than because he particularly likes her. I found this sad and slightly distasteful rather than funny, although to be fair to Sedaris he has no illusions about his conduct.

In fact, for my money, the whole piece treads a very narrow line between brutal honesty and poor taste. Of the disadvantaged, he writes: "You need people like that in your life so you can feel better about yourself, my mother used to tell me", but later comes the sharp and self-aware comment that "We'd all turned our backs on privilege, but comfortably, the way you can when you have access to it". And at the end he rather misses the cold caller. So let's just say that, for this reader at least, the satire comes uncomfortably close at times to reinforcing the very prejudices it claims to be mocking.

I also found it impossible to raise even the slightest smile at his account of maltreating baby sea turtles when a child. Feeding them hamburgers until the aquarium is clogged and stinking, he claims a kind of innocent ignorance: "Looking back you'd think that someone would have said something – sea turtles for God's sake! – but maybe they weren't endangered yet. Animal cruelty hadn't been invented either...." It may or may not be legitimate to blame ignorance and poor parenting for cruelty but to then make it the subject of a comic piece of writing raises all kinds of quite different ethical considerations.

Sedaris is a live performer, a radio broadcaster and has many fans the world over who think he is absolutely marvellous. I suspect he is funnier live than I found him on the page. As it was, the best I could do was to raise a wry smile and be impressed at some of his better one-liners. Like most comedy, you either get the joke or you don't. Despite his obvious talents, I mostly didn't.

Lifetime

Posted:

SWEDISH author Liza Marklund's sleuth-protagonist recalls American Sue Grafton's redoubtable Kinsey Millhone of the long-running "alphabet mysteries" – both are tough female investigators and both come with complex back-stories woven from family and personal issues.

With Marklund's Annika Bengtzon, we get a compelling personality on the trail of Scandinavian bad guys. She has a disquieting range of flaws and foibles, notably obnoxiousness and recklessness. But this being pulp-thriller territory, Marklund's investigative journalist is, above all, sharp and courageous.

The gripping Lifetime is seventh in the Annika Bengtzon series, though all the books can be read as standalones. Annika – a hapless intern in book one, and head of her newspaper's crime section by this instalment – is a fighter who is balancing parenthood and marriage with her literally bloody work.

Here we move on from the broad sweep of Last Will, the previous book, which had as its white-knuckle backdrop the Nobel Prize ceremony, one of the most suspenseful in the whole series. This time, we are presented with what appears to be a "domestic" situation gone horribly wrong, and we gradually learn that the extent of the human tragedy sprawls far and wide.

The sky falls in for Annika when her husband leaves her for another woman and threatens to take their children. Meanwhile, two cops on patrol are called to a shooting in Södermalm, in central Stockholm. One of Sweden's most senior and respected police officers, David Lindholm, has been found dead, shot once in the head and once in the groin. His now-widow Julia – an acquaintance of Annika's – is in a distraught, blood-spattered state, shrilly blaming the "other woman" for both the killing and for the apparent abduction of her young son. But first impressions clearly mark Julia as the trigger-puller. Her yarn about her missing son sounds a bit fishy to the cops as well.

Södermalm was, of course, ground-zero of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and has been the setting of many fictitious homicide scenes since. Understandable, since it's a hell of a cinematic locale, with its Baroque and Gothic architecture, mix of Bohemian and well-to-do denizens, dive bars, posh restaurants, tattoo parlours, and Scandinavia's highest concentration of Asian eateries.

This Stockholm-born reviewer is well-acquainted with its aromatic streets but I've never seen so much as a jaywalker or a double-parked Volvo in this part of the city. Nevertheless, a slew of writers have seen a dark side to the neighbourhood, and Marklund is adept at capturing Södermalm at its apparent edgiest.

Only Annika doubts Julia's guilt, and undertakes her probe solo, as the police and everyone else have already leapt to judgement. Amidst this, Annika also has to pull her chaotic personal life together.

She discovers that the deceased policeman concealed another life and was likely involved in illegal business activities that led to his murder. Her race against time to uncover the truth and exonerate Julia is almost thwarted, time after time, by multiple obstacles, including the dead hand of state bureaucracy and office politics at her newspaper. The latter is exacerbated by Annika's editor-in-chief's plan to retrench 60 employees in a cost-cutting exercise.

The damaged domestic life of the victim mirrors Annika's own problems. But even when she finds herself homeless, her dogged determination to find the real killer remains intact. And yet her desperation is all too palpable, as revealed when she agrees to baby-sit her own children at her husband's mistress' house.

There's a lot in Lifetime apart from the killings. With Annika's newspaper facing staff cuts, there are authentic insights into the workings of a Stockholm newsroom, because like so many of her Scando-crime-fiction peers, Marklund was a journalist herself. And she knows her craft as a fiction writer too; there are enough loose ends dangling at the conclusion for the reader to crave a sequel (which is indeed in the works).

The first Scandiavian noir writer – and still the best in this reviewer's opinion – to have a global impact was Henning Mankell, who lit the fuse with his Scanian (a region in Sweden) chiller Faceless Killers in 1990. A few years ago he did Marklund a big favour by dubbing her "The Queen of Scandinavian Crime Fiction". Her work does not have his subtlety, or Larsson's breath-taking pacing and audacious plotting; nevertheless, Marklund has become an important name in the genre.

Readers can keep looking north for their Scandinavian chills and thrills. Marklund is secluded in her Stockholm flat, penning the next Annika Bengtzon mystery, The Long Shadow, as you read this.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Najib: Malaysia needs more value-added economic activities to advance

Posted:

PEKAN: The country cannot remain a commodity producer if it wishes to advance, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the cause of low income for a nation and an individual was when it did not get involved in value-added economic activities.

"An example are African nations. They cannot develop because they are still stuck in the commodity producer phase.

"The African continent is rich in tin, iron, diamonds and all manner of resources, but the whole economic network is controlled by multi-national corporations," he said at the presentation of the Rubber Industry Smallholders De­­velopment Autho­rity (Risda) dividends and the launch of the young generation of smallholders programme here yesterday.

He said African nations had to break free from the clutches of multi-national corporations before they could advance.

"Some countries achieved independence not long after us, but they are lagging behind in development when compared to us. There are a lot of factors, such as the failure to change their policies, economic structure and networks," he added.

Najib said if smallholders did not get involved in activities that provide higher returns, they might face the same fate.

"I propose that besides producing commodities, smallholders learn good governance and how to manage. That is the way forward if we do not want to be stuck in a rut," he added.

Najib said that to ensure the younger generation take part in the industry, smallholders had to show it was productive, competitive and dynamic.

"Otherwise, the younger generation would think it was better to work in the service industry like McDonald's rather than in the plantations," he said.

During the event, Najib announced that the Government was prepared to allocate RM10mil through Risda to implement the young generation of smallholders programme in next year's budget.

"The Government, through Risda, will set up a Smallholders' Children Scholarship Scheme to give financial aid to children with potential for success from low-income families," he said.

At another function here, Najib said Malaysia was way ahead of countries that had achieved independence at about the same time as Malaysia.

"During my visit to Tanzania recently, I found that its people are still looking for ways to develop their agriculture, while ours are already in order," he said at a breaking of fast event with settlers of Felda Chini 2 here.

Kuala Besut by-election: Candidates reaching out to as many voters as possible

Posted:

BESUT: The first day of the campaigning period for the Kuala Besut by-election saw both Barisan Nasional and PAS candidates on the race to reach out to as many voters as possible.

Barisan candidate Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abd Rahman's day started immediately after dawn, joining the people of Kampung Dengir near here for the morning prayers.

He later visited a couple, whose house in Kg Tok Kolok was burned down in May.

The couple – Ramli Jusoh and wife Norsarimah Awang – will be moving into a brand new house soon, courtesy of the Fire and Rescue Department that would help rebuild their home under its "My Beautiful Neighbourhood Programme".

"This is what Barisan does for the people. I hope the people can see this and will realise that Barisan is the best choice," said Tengku Zaihan.

His plan in the next 12 days of campaigning is to visit every nook and corner of the Kuala Besut constituency to understand the people's needs.

On his rounds, Tengku Zaihan said he would be stressing on the need for the people to maintain stability in the state, which only Barisan could guarantee.

Meanwhile, Endut@Azlan Yusof, who is campaigning for change, visited several areas here, greeting voters at wet markets and Ramadan bazaars and attending a ceramah.

As early as 8.30am, the PAS candidate was already on the campaign trail, saying that he was confident of meeting almost all the people in his constituency before polling day.

"For me, it is important that I meet the people so that they will understand what we plan to do for them. A win in this by-election is not for me but it is for the party," he said.

Azlan – popularly known among the locals as Che Long – is very aware of the heavy burden that he is carrying in trying to win Kuala Besut, which could force an equal number seats between Barisan and Pakatan Rakyat in the state legislative assembly.

"This is my first by-election but I never thought that it would be this important. I will do my best not to fail the party," he said.

Azlan also credited his family for their unfailing support despite him spending so much time away since he was picked by the party to stand in the by-election.

Related stories:

Kuala Besut by-election: Not wrong to support Barisan, says Muhyiddin

Kuala Besut by-election: BN candidate not widely accepted due to not being local, says PAS

Low intake of Chinese students in public varsities unacceptable, says Chua

Posted:

PETALING JAYA: The low intake of Chinese students in public universities for the 2013/2014 academic term is unacceptable, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

"As the number of student intake increases, the number of Chinese gaining entry seems to be declining.

"This is a gross deprivation for Chinese students and it raises the question of the selection criteria," he said.

Dr Chua found it unacceptable that the number of successful Chinese applicants for the term had dropped to 7,913 (19%) this year from 8,986 (23%) last year; a 1,000-student drop.

There were a total of 41,573 successful applicants for the new term.

Citing Education Ministry statistics, Dr Chua said that in the 2012/2013 intake, 8,986 out of the total 38,549 students were Chinese students.

For the 2011/2012 intake, there were 9,457 Chinese students out of a total 41,627 applicants.

The issue was previously raised by MCA education bureau chairman Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who said that some students with cumulative grade point averages (CGPA) of 4.0 were unable to get places in universities.

Dr Wee said these included students who applied for fields such as medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.

Based on these numbers, Dr Chua said that MCA doubted if meritocracy was at all part of the public university selection process, and called for a more transparent process to be put in place.

He said that a brain drain would occur if qualified students were offered to study in foreign universities.

"Qualified students must be accorded a place in universities, and to deprive them of tertiary education is a great injustice to the education policy," he said.

Dr Chua noted that there was a decline in Chinese students getting into public university courses of their choice, and called on the Government to address the matter.

He added that qualified applicants who were unable to get into public universities could make an appeal through Dr Chua's or the MCA Youth education bureau's office.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Pre-war coffee shop moving out

Posted:


FOR about 75 years, Tong Ah Eating House has stood out in Keong Saik Road for its distinctive red-and-white facade and shape as it sits on a triangular plot of land.

But from tomorrow, this old-school coffee shop will head out to a new shophouse, even if it is just a few doors down the same road.

The move marks the uprooting of a business the great-grandfather of Tang Chew Fue, 50, started at the spot in 1939, a date embossed on a sign proudly displayed at the top of the three-storey building.

Tang blames the upheaval on the sale of the property to a foreign investor, believed to be a hotelier. It is valued at about S$8mil (RM20mil), he said.

The coffee shop's owner is a relative of Tang, who rents the place for S$8,000 (RM20,000) a month. He declined to go into the reasons for the sale and neither the relative nor the new owner could be reached for comment.

Nicknamed Ah Wee, Tang took over the coffee shop from his father in 1999.

Little has changed on the menu as the Foochow family stuck to its winning formula of serving kaya toast in the morning and zi char food at night.

He will keep the menu intact in the new place at 35, Keong Saik Road, but he worries about his profit margin as he now pays 50% more in rent.

"I feel squeezed. Property prices have gone up as many private investors have bought land here," he said.

He also worries that the loss of outdoor seating, for which the coffee shop is known, will hurt his business. 

"The outdoor seating is important to me. In the new location, the interior is large but my customers will have fewer carpark space," he said.

The coffee shop's customers, mainly office workers and residents in the area, were similarly nostalgic.

"Eating on the five-foot walkway is a treat that has been around for a long time. It is a special ambience with an old-world charm," sales executive Lee Siew Song said wistfully.

The 55-year-old works nearby and eats at the coffee shop twice a week.

Tong Ah is the second old-world coffee shop to change hands in just over a month. 

Last month, 70-year-old Hua Bee coffee shop in Moh Guan Terrace in Tiong Bahru was leased to hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, 41. 

As a result, one of its two stallholders, coffee-seller Tony Tiang, 58, called it a day. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

War and the tourist

Posted:

A new kind of tourism seems to be emerging in the shadows of a world riven by conflict.

IT was a little over three weeks ago that the early morning silence of a base camp near Nanga Parbat was pierced by gunfire.

A number of men clad in the uniform of the Gilgit Scouts opened fire on the camp of mountain climbers. When they stopped, 10 climbers and their local guide lay dead.

The climbers originated from China, Russia, Nepal and Ukraine. The killers, it is alleged, were locals. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan took responsibility for the attack. The reason for killing the climbers, they said, was in retaliation to the drone strikes inside Pakistan.

The attacks were widely condemned in Pakistan and abroad. Local news media focused on the area where the climbers were killed, pointing out how another part of Pakistan known for its scenic beauty was stained with the blood of innocent people.

In the international media, the deaths of the climbers received some attention, but unsurprisingly not the prolonged coverage that would have been afforded had the climbers been American or British.

On the lopsided scales of international sympathy, the world weeps most for only certain types of victims.

In Pakistan, where the tears have long since dried up, here was yet another example of why the terrain of the country, from the icy beauty of the northern mountains to the beaches of the sandy south, belongs to war and warmongers.

A few people cried at the death of tourism in Pakistan; most, however, were informed of the passing of recreational travel long ago. For years now, Pakistanis, residents of a country in conflict, have not been able to travel with the same freedom as before.

In these dark days of daily catastrophe, many an evocative eulogy has been written in memory of the Swat that was not known for shooting schoolgirls, and now for Nanga Parbat that was known for feats of human endurance and courage.

At the same time, while tourists of a certain sort may be driven away by the spectre of danger and the idea of an excursion being ravaged by militant groups, a new kind of tourism seems to be emerging in the shadows of a world riven by conflict.

In recent years and months, as protests and clashes have broken out in Egypt and Turkey, droves of "revolution watchers" from Western countries are reported to have headed to Tahrir and now Taksim Square, so that they can claim the badge of bravado that allows them to say they were there.

With the tools of social media at their disposal, they have reported effusively the drama of teargas shells being lobbed at crowds, security officials wielding their batons and the infectious fervour of the protesters surrounding them.

Here is a drama that differs from the usual tasks of the tourist: the taking in of the local sentiment of discontent and revolt, instead of appreciating ancient or natural sights.

If the latter pertains to the exotic and different, the tourism of conflict aims at taking in tempestuous, uncertain danger – the ultimate in thrill-seeking.

There are limits, of course, to the extent of danger that war tourists are willing to endure, and Pakistan, which has an excess of danger to offer, is too far off the scale to benefit from this newly developed taste for the perilous.

For the tourists of war and revolution, anger and protests are entertaining, so long as they do not impinge in any real way on the possibility of their return to calmer shores.

Awarded the dubious title of the most dangerous country in the world, perhaps Pakistan needs to start marketing its unrest, its uncertainty, its dark depravity as a way of attracting those bored of the easy, unexciting stability of existence in the rich world.

> The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Modern twist

Posted:

Is Rashomon's tale a puzzle without a solution?

STORIES change with the telling. It is only fitting that Actors Studio's fourth staging of Rashomon – a film famous for how a seemingly simple story can wildly shift with a different storyteller – has again beentransformed in the hands of director Joe Hasham.

Last seen at Istana Budaya in 2004, Rashomon is based on Akira Kurosawa's award-winning film of the same name. The film is a whodunit from ancient Japan, where four characters tell their versions of how a bandit killed a samurai and assaulted the samurai's wife. More complex than your typical episode of CSI, the audience has to find a grain of truth from each character as they all have a selfish reason to tweak their stories.

In this staging of the play at KLPac's Pentas 1, Hasham transports the story from Edo-period Kyoto into gritty 21st century Osaka. To help him transform the woods of Japan into a concrete jungle, Hasham roped in long-time collaborator Paul Loosley as his production designer.

"Joe's a fisherman, he knows how to tease a fish. He hooked me on the idea of creating a modern Rashomon!" laughs Loosley. He points out how Kurosawa's Rashomon mostly took place in the woods, but modern Osaka is hardly so au-naturel nowadays.

"I noticed Japanese cities use a lot of vertical signboard advertisements. When they turn on at night, it seems like a sea of neon trees. Cities are forests too," adds Loosley, who spent a two-year stint in Japan recently. Even the wall which the movie is named after, has been changed from a city's grand gate to something far less noble.

Not wanting just a fancy new stage, Hasham also modernised the cast. The bandit is now a Yakuza, the samurai a politician, and the woodcutter who finds the samurai's corpse has been promoted to a cable guy, working on "trees" of electrical poles.

The Yakuza played by Japanese actor Doppo Narita, adds another twist to the play: he will perform entirely in Japanese.

"It works gang busters! Having the Yakuza speak in Japanese adds a real sense of menace to the character, makes him a real piece of work," enthuses Loosley.

Hasham explains he wanted to add a very strong Japanese element and it didn't get much better than Narita speaking his native language.

He adds that there would be English surtitles.

Another key element in any theatrical performance is the music, and Hasham has called on another old-hand to put a new spin on things. Music director Bernard Goh, who also worked in a previous staging of Rashomon, says that since the play was set in the now, the music would also be "in the now" and draw inspiration from modern Japanese music.

Although well known as the director of Hands Percussion, Goh says the soundtrack will be played by a live band every night, using classical Japanese instruments and modern instruments.

Actors Studio's Rashomon plays at Pentas 1, KLPac, Kuala Lumpur on July 12-14 at 8.30pm, with additional matinees on July 13 at 3pm. Tickets are available at www.ilassotickets.com.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Pre-war coffee shop moving out

Posted:


FOR about 75 years, Tong Ah Eating House has stood out in Keong Saik Road for its distinctive red-and-white facade and shape as it sits on a triangular plot of land.

But from tomorrow, this old-school coffee shop will head out to a new shophouse, even if it is just a few doors down the same road.

The move marks the uprooting of a business the great-grandfather of Tang Chew Fue, 50, started at the spot in 1939, a date embossed on a sign proudly displayed at the top of the three-storey building.

Tang blames the upheaval on the sale of the property to a foreign investor, believed to be a hotelier. It is valued at about S$8mil (RM20mil), he said.

The coffee shop's owner is a relative of Tang, who rents the place for S$8,000 (RM20,000) a month. He declined to go into the reasons for the sale and neither the relative nor the new owner could be reached for comment.

Nicknamed Ah Wee, Tang took over the coffee shop from his father in 1999.

Little has changed on the menu as the Foochow family stuck to its winning formula of serving kaya toast in the morning and zi char food at night.

He will keep the menu intact in the new place at 35, Keong Saik Road, but he worries about his profit margin as he now pays 50% more in rent.

"I feel squeezed. Property prices have gone up as many private investors have bought land here," he said.

He also worries that the loss of outdoor seating, for which the coffee shop is known, will hurt his business. 

"The outdoor seating is important to me. In the new location, the interior is large but my customers will have fewer carpark space," he said.

The coffee shop's customers, mainly office workers and residents in the area, were similarly nostalgic.

"Eating on the five-foot walkway is a treat that has been around for a long time. It is a special ambience with an old-world charm," sales executive Lee Siew Song said wistfully.

The 55-year-old works nearby and eats at the coffee shop twice a week.

Tong Ah is the second old-world coffee shop to change hands in just over a month. 

Last month, 70-year-old Hua Bee coffee shop in Moh Guan Terrace in Tiong Bahru was leased to hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, 41. 

As a result, one of its two stallholders, coffee-seller Tony Tiang, 58, called it a day. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

War and the tourist

Posted:

A new kind of tourism seems to be emerging in the shadows of a world riven by conflict.

IT was a little over three weeks ago that the early morning silence of a base camp near Nanga Parbat was pierced by gunfire.

A number of men clad in the uniform of the Gilgit Scouts opened fire on the camp of mountain climbers. When they stopped, 10 climbers and their local guide lay dead.

The climbers originated from China, Russia, Nepal and Ukraine. The killers, it is alleged, were locals. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan took responsibility for the attack. The reason for killing the climbers, they said, was in retaliation to the drone strikes inside Pakistan.

The attacks were widely condemned in Pakistan and abroad. Local news media focused on the area where the climbers were killed, pointing out how another part of Pakistan known for its scenic beauty was stained with the blood of innocent people.

In the international media, the deaths of the climbers received some attention, but unsurprisingly not the prolonged coverage that would have been afforded had the climbers been American or British.

On the lopsided scales of international sympathy, the world weeps most for only certain types of victims.

In Pakistan, where the tears have long since dried up, here was yet another example of why the terrain of the country, from the icy beauty of the northern mountains to the beaches of the sandy south, belongs to war and warmongers.

A few people cried at the death of tourism in Pakistan; most, however, were informed of the passing of recreational travel long ago. For years now, Pakistanis, residents of a country in conflict, have not been able to travel with the same freedom as before.

In these dark days of daily catastrophe, many an evocative eulogy has been written in memory of the Swat that was not known for shooting schoolgirls, and now for Nanga Parbat that was known for feats of human endurance and courage.

At the same time, while tourists of a certain sort may be driven away by the spectre of danger and the idea of an excursion being ravaged by militant groups, a new kind of tourism seems to be emerging in the shadows of a world riven by conflict.

In recent years and months, as protests and clashes have broken out in Egypt and Turkey, droves of "revolution watchers" from Western countries are reported to have headed to Tahrir and now Taksim Square, so that they can claim the badge of bravado that allows them to say they were there.

With the tools of social media at their disposal, they have reported effusively the drama of teargas shells being lobbed at crowds, security officials wielding their batons and the infectious fervour of the protesters surrounding them.

Here is a drama that differs from the usual tasks of the tourist: the taking in of the local sentiment of discontent and revolt, instead of appreciating ancient or natural sights.

If the latter pertains to the exotic and different, the tourism of conflict aims at taking in tempestuous, uncertain danger – the ultimate in thrill-seeking.

There are limits, of course, to the extent of danger that war tourists are willing to endure, and Pakistan, which has an excess of danger to offer, is too far off the scale to benefit from this newly developed taste for the perilous.

For the tourists of war and revolution, anger and protests are entertaining, so long as they do not impinge in any real way on the possibility of their return to calmer shores.

Awarded the dubious title of the most dangerous country in the world, perhaps Pakistan needs to start marketing its unrest, its uncertainty, its dark depravity as a way of attracting those bored of the easy, unexciting stability of existence in the rich world.

> The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

Coming to a screen near you

Posted:

In China, traditional publishers are taking unusual steps as they seek to make the move into the digital age.

AS China's digital publishing industry continues to grow, publishers are looking for new ways of obtaining and telling stories. Gone are the days when authors simply penned their tales, presented them to the publisher houses and hoped for the best.

In addition, several of China's best-known, long-established publishers are using the digital arena as a shop window for their products in the hope of boosting sales of books in brick and mortar stores.

Last September, one of China's oldest publishing houses, the 101-year-old Zhonghua Book Co, entered the world of multimedia publishing by instigating a poetry contest that targeted mobile phone users.

The format was simple: applicants simply had to compose an ode using the rigid formulas of classical Chinese poetry and send the resulting poem to Zhonghua via a text message.

Over a period of four months, 43 million wannabe poets texted their work, either as original content for the competition or as messages to friends, who in turn forwarded the poem to other recipients. Software containing a template for the poem and the rules of composition was downloaded more than 50,000 times in one month.

By the end of the competition, the number of posts and reposts on mobile devices totalled 129 million, a huge number given that Zhonghua's biggest-selling physical book, Thoughts on the Analects of Confucius, sold 320,000 copies.

"The competition was our attempt to popularise ancient Chinese literature in the modern age and to market the brand of our publishing house, which is famous for classical Chinese texts," said Bao Yan, Zhonghua's president.

It was the first time that Bao and her team had attempted to promote and develop the physical market potential of classical Chinese literature via the digital medium.

Zhonghua estimated the revenue from the competition at nine million yuan (RM4.6mil), although the publisher had to split that sum with the telecom companies and its other partners.

Publicity boost

However, rather than hard cash, the publicity boost for Zhonghua's traditional publications was the most valuable thing to emerge from the competition, according to Bao.

Meanwhile, the lessons learned from cooperating with local governments and technological partners could prove invaluable as the company looks to the future.

Zhonghua is just one of a group of traditional publishers attempting to carve out a niche in the multimedia world, but they are finding the going tough.

In the past three years, the income brought in by digital products has accounted for less than 10% of the annual revenue of the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

That disparity stems from a lack of familiarity with operating methods in the world of digital publishing.

"No one in the publishing world knows how to benefit from it (digital publishing) in terms of finances and branding," said Li Hongfei, the director of the language press' digital department.

"We may have good ideas, but without obvious signs of return publishing houses are reluctant to invest their money in a digital arm. All in all, the major businesses are still focusing on traditional paper productions."

Li's comment echoed a quip made by the language press' deputy president, Xie Wenhui: "Doing nothing in the multimedia world means we are just sitting still and waiting to die, but taking action in the market could mean we die more quickly."

However, Lin Hua, deputy president of Cloudary, the biggest online hub for contemporary Chinese literature, said at the StoryDrive China forum organised by the Frankfurt Academy in May that online content can be a money spinner, especially if marketed correctly across a range of formats.

For example, the novel If You are the One by Fu Rong San Bian, one of Cloudary's biggest sellers, became one of the most successful examples of the transmedia trend when it was later made into a movie by the Chinese director Feng Xiaogang.

No quick returns

The branding effect is already evident; best-selling e-books can have a positive influence on sales of the equivalent paper publication.

"The digital performance of a book often provides clues to potential sales in brick and mortar stores, but it will be a long-term process, even with clear goals and a good plan of action," said Li. "No one should expect a quick financial return."

Wang Hui, chief editor of the Chinese-language version of Psychology magazine, said: "Traditional publishers enjoy the advantages of being well established and enjoy good reputations in the industry, but those factors can also prove to be shortcomings."

Like Zhonghua, Sanlian Publishing House put a new twist on a traditional industry when it opened a workshop for authors, graphic artists and, crucially, readers, in 2009.

Work and story ideas are submitted online and if the readers judge the material to have potential, the authors and artists are invited to attend the workshop and develop their ideas in collaboration with the readers.

Zhang Zhijun, Sanlian's deputy head, sees the workshop as a major influence on the publisher's future development.

Sanlian is no stranger to innovation. In 2003, it was the first publishing house on the Chinese mainland to publish graphic novels, such as those by the popular Taiwan-based cartoonist Jimmy.

"The open nature of the workshop offers more opportunities to get to know authors from all walks of life, people with special ideas they would like to share through our platform, " said Zhang. 

Interactivity

Meanwhile, illustrated and interactive books are now assuming greater importance for publishers and the format of the workshop, equally open to creative types and their audience, means publishing in the digital world can break accepted rules.

For example, some companies have given readers the opportunity to influence the course of stories published in instalments by asking for, and often incorporating, their ideas on story and character development.

"Interactivity in the reading process, no matter at what stage, is winning more readers because people have become accustomed to it through computer games and related activities," said Holger Volland, deputy president of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

"As we all know, in the search for good content, uniqueness and novelty are more important than anything else," said Zhang, who decided to retain full independence of the workshop by declining all offers of financial support and cooperation from other organisations: "We have to maintain our purity; that way we can produce a lasting and sustainable future in the publishing world."

Zhonghua's Bao believes in the merits of classical Chinese literature and regards her company as being in a unique position as it acts as a cheerleader for, and repository of, ancient literature.

To that end, the company is exploring the potential of promoting the classics through "fragmentation", that is by publishing free extracts from classic works in the hope that readers will be enthralled and rush to the stores to buy a copy of the book in question.

For Sanlian, the path seems clear but also hard. Around 99% of the illustrated books it publishes and sells in its own bookstores are written by foreign authors.

"We lack local talent to create good material that will prove competitive," said Zhang. "It's an opportunity as well as a challenge. If we get it right, we will be starting on the road to success." — China Daily/ Asia News Network

Quality is king


"THE big picture revolves around the upstream and downstream ends of the publishing industry, more simply described as content and marketing. When people focus on the format of digital books, the content is subconsciously ignored. The content created and published online should be classified into 'edited' and 'unedited'. This is a big difference.

"The core value of a publishing house, even nowadays, relies heavily on the process of selecting content. High-quality content is the most important thing, regardless of whether a book has been published digitally or in the traditional format. The content provider should be responsible for quality.

"How to protect excellent quality and purify it should be the first priority when digital book editors think about their work. No decent publisher with a good reputation is proud of quantity on its own.

"Also, heavy competition is unavoidable at this stage of development. It is not a good sign for any part in the industry to worry only about the product price at the expense of the service provided and brand value established. No clear rules and regulations have yet been set and the market needs time to mature."

— Pan Kaixiong, vice-president of China

All the free downloads will die out

"The volume of digital reading content on JD.com is still very small. We started our e-book business in February 2012 and it now has more than four million customers. However, 80% of the 140,000 e-book categories comprise digital copies of printed works, the same format as Amazon and is quite distinct from other Chinese publishers. Readers have different preferences; some like e-books, others like traditional books.

"Literature, management and social sciences are the categories with the highest e-book sales online, while education, scientific works and children's books are the most popular among traditional readers.

"Right now in China's publishing industry, self-publishing - original works published and sold online by the authors – has emerged as a major trend. At the same time, a new habit of consuming books online has emerged, as a lot of consumers appear to be willing to pay more for digitalised content and the price of the content has risen as much as threefold. So the number of free downloads will decline gradually and finally disappear.

"The positive landscape of digital publishing encourages publishers and prompts a greater number of people to read e-books. The benefits for the content creator, however, are still blowing in the wind. As to whether they can earn more money than traditional writers, I don't think anyone can guarantee that in the short term."

— Shi Tao, vice-president of JD.com, one of China's largest online business-to-customer retailers

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my
 

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