Selasa, 22 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Weakening Raymond soaks southwestern Mexico, no serious damage


ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico (Reuters) - More heavy rain spawned by Hurricane Raymond as it churned over the Pacific fell on southwestern Mexico on Tuesday, soaking areas hit by record flooding last month, but forecasters said the storm was weakening and appeared unlikely to reach land.

The port and schools remained closed in the resort city of Acapulco, which also was battered by tropical storms that struck Mexico in mid-September. The freight hub of Lazaro Cardenas to the northwest also was shut.

Coastal rains caused minor mudslides in the hills behind Acapulco, but there were no reports of significant damage.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center downgraded Raymond to category 1 in the five-step hurricane intensity scale, saying it was now "barely a hurricane" and was expected to weaken to a tropical storm on Wednesday.

Raymond, located about 100 miles (161 km) off the resort town of Zihuatanejo on the coast of Guerrero state and 140 miles (225 km) west-southwest of Acapulco, generated sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (121 kph), and may draw nearer to land before starting to move slowly out to sea on Wednesday, the Miami-based center said.

The hurricane was stationary for much of Tuesday, the forecasters said. They expected it to produce between five and 10 inches (13-25 cm) of rain in Guerrero and Michoacan, and in isolated cases as much as 15 inches (38 cm).

Heavy rain came down overnight in Acapulco, but by Tuesday morning only a slight drizzle was falling with light winds. People moved about freely, beaches were open and there were no signs of serious flooding in the city center.

The city nearest to the threat of Raymond was Zihuatanejo, to the northwest of Acapulco.

While the Pacific resort city of Zihuantanejo saw a respite from heavy rains and winds Tuesday night, officials were worried Raymond could bring a heavier downpour overnight.

"Things could still get a lot worse," said Jaime Vazquez, deputy director of the resorts emergency services. "The biggest risk will be tonight with more rain."

Some 5,700 people are still in shelters in the poor southern state of Guerrero after they were driven from their homes. Some 270 people were evacuated in Zihuatenejo since Monday as the rains returned.

"We were going to go back to our home, but now we cannot," said Guadalupe Castillo, 34, as she settled down for another night in a shelter with her husband and three children.

"We do not have any other option," said Castillo's husband, Guillermo, who has not been able to find work as a waiter due to the drop in tourism after the recent storms.

Last month the country suffered its worst flooding since records began when storms Manuel and Ingrid converged from the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, killing more than 150 people and causing damage estimated at around $6 billion.

Torrential rains brought down hotel occupancy rates in the Acapulco last month and flooded the resort's airport, stranding thousands of tourists. The city's airport was operating normally on Tuesday, authorities said.

(Editing by Simon Gardner, Jackie Frank, Jim Loney and Ken Wills)

Australians told to flee homes as hot winds fan Sydney fire threat


SYDNEY (Reuters) - Thousands of Australians were told to evacuate their homes on Wednesday as dry winds created the conditions for a firestorm in mountainous bushland outside Sydney, where firefighters have battled for days to bring dozens of wildfires under control.

More than 200 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales (NSW) state since last Thursday, when bushfires tore through scattered communities to Sydney's south and west, razing entire streets. One man died after suffering a heart attack trying to protect his home.

Wednesday's fire conditions were shaping up to be the worst so far in the state's bushfire crisis, Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

"If you don't have a plan, let me give you one," NSW Emergency Minister Michael Gallacher said. "Get into the car, drive down to the city metropolitan area and let the firefighters do what they can do to protect the community, should this turn for the worse."

Temperatures in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney are expected to reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), while in Sydney itself they could hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit). Hot, dry winds gusting up to 100 kmph (60 mph) are also expected, posing the greatest challenge to firefighters.

"This is the day where we've been receiving forecasts of the worst of weather for this week and that forecast is still staying with those predictions," Fitzsimmons told reporters, warning of extreme fire conditions.

There are still 59 fires burning across the state on Wednesday, with 19 out of control, according to the latest update from the RFS.

Authorities ordered schools in the Blue Mountains to be closed, evacuated nursing homes and advised people living in the area to leave before conditions deteriorated.

The Blue Mountains, whose foothills extend down to western Sydney suburbs like Penrith, are populated with a mix of farmers, small business owners and white-collar commuters who make the trip into the city every day. Known for their spectacular escarpments, eucalyptus forests and scattered small communities, they are a popular tourist spot for Sydneysiders on weekends.

But the region's often inaccessible terrain and highly combustible vegetation can become a fire nightmare during the long, hot Southern Hemisphere summer.

The insurance council of Australia said claims of more than A$93 million ($90 million) were expected to grow and the NSW government has declared a state of emergency enabling it to order evacuations.

Police have arrested several children suspected of starting a number of different fires. Other fires were sparked by power lines arcing in strong winds, according to the fire service.

With dry weather and a massive land area, Australia is particularly prone to bushfires. In 2009, the "Black Saturday" wildfires in Victoria state killed 173 people and caused $4.4 billion worth of damage.

Record hot and dry weather across the continent and an early start to the fire season have rekindled arguments on mankind's impact on climate and what can be done to mitigate it.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast and Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Key House Republican presses tech companies on Obamacare glitches


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairman of a key congressional oversight committee has asked Google, Microsoft and three other U.S. companies to provide details on their possible involvement in a "tech surge" aimed at fixing a website implementing President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made the request in a letter to Google, Microsoft, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Oracle and Expedia, committee spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll said.

Issa, a relentless critic of the Obama administration, wants information on contacts the companies may have had with the White House about the website by Friday. Carroll called it the first step of a "rolling inquiry" that could include other companies.

The five named companies were selected because of press reports about their potential involvement in fixing the website, Carroll said.

Google, Oracle and Verizon declined to comment on the letter. Microsoft and Expedia could not be immediately reached for comment.

Republicans, long opposed to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," have started their own congressional investigation about the role of the White House in the October 1 rollout of the website, which serves 36 states and is meant to help the uninsured determine their eligibility for tax credits toward buying private coverage under Obamacare.

Only a trickle of users so far have been able to advance through the enrolment process on the website.

The Department of Health and Human Services said at the weekend it was launching a "tech surge" for the website, but neither it nor the White House has provided details about the cause of the problems, precisely what is being done to fix them and who exactly is doing the fixing.

Obama, who said on Monday that he was frustrated by the website's problems, turned on Tuesday to trusted adviser Jeffrey Zients to lead the surge.

Zients, who will become head of the National Economic Council in January, will provide short-term management advice and counsel on the project, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog posting.

She said a team of experts and specialists drawn from government and industry, "including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies," also would work to diagnose and repair the website's problems.

In his letter, a copy of which was provided to Reuters, Issa complained of a dearth of information about the project.

"Despite the President's assertion that 'we're well into a "tech surge"' neither the White House nor HHS is providing additional details about which private sector companies have been engaged or whether they are being engaged through the appropriate procurement processes," Issa said in the letter.

"Your company has, however, been prominently mentioned in public discussion related to," Issa said.

He asked that the companies indicate in writing by Friday what contacts they have had with the administration or "any entity" working on the website project, and for a "specific description of any and all problems brought to your attention."

At least two other congressional committees are investigating the glitches and whether the administration was forthright about the problems. Several contractors are due to appear at a hearing on Thursday about their work on the website.


The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Leo to produce a movie


The award-winning actor is set to produce an adaptation of a novel ... that is not even released yet.

Leonardo DiCaprio plans to produce and possibly star in an adaptation of a forthcoming novel by Jo Nesbo, the bestselling Norwegian crime author behind the The Snowman.

Currently in the process of acquiring the film rights to Blood On Snow, Warner Bros will enlist the help of DiCaprio and his production company Appian Way to adapt the novel to the screen.

The two-part Jo Nesbo novel, slated to arrive in bookstores in 2014 and 2015, focuses on a hit man hired to murder his boss's wife. DiCaprio is considering playing the protagonist, who ends up falling in love with the woman he has been instructed to assassinate.

Blood On Snow is the latest in a long list of projects in the pipeline for Appian Way. Among several dozen others, the production company is working on a Woodrow Wilson biopic, an adaptation of the anime comic Akira and a feature on Henry Howard Holmes, one of the first documented serial killers in the United States.

DiCaprio will be eligible for an Oscar nomination in 2014 for his role in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street. Currently in post-production, this film on Wall Street traders' glory days will be released in the US before the end of 2013. — AFP Relaxnews

Get some <i>Tom Yum Goong 2</i> action


Lots of mind-boggling action in the Thai flick.

Touted as Thailand's first 3D action movie, Tom Yum Goong 2 took two whole years to make and has since become the biggest budget Thai movie ever made – twice as much as the original actioner Tom Yum Goong (2005).

The storyline for this hard-hitting sequel centres on its protagonist Kham, the last in the long line of guards for the King of Thailand's war elephants, who returns to his village to live in peace after a harrowing quest to retrieve the elephants. But for a martial arts expert like Kham, played by 37-year-old Thai action maestro Tony Jaa, peace is wishful thinking.

Making the sequel into a 3D movie was also a personal preference for Prachya Pinkaew (who also directed Tom Yun Goong) who professed a liking for 3D action. "The movie is an action film, so this is a good opportunity to do it. Action films and 3D go well together, I think," he said in an e-mail interview.

Tom Yum Goong 2 is also much hyped as it is the first time two top action stars from Thailand – Jeeja Yanin and Jaa – work in a film together.

"I believe a lot of people are looking forward to the fight scenes between Tony Jaa and Jeeja. In this movie, Jeeja plays Ping-Ping, the daughter of a powerful Chinese businessman involved in the elephant industry. She has studied in China and has a twin sister named Sue-Sue. Ping-Ping is an acupuncturist, whose expertise is bare-handed boxing mixed with acupuncture needles," said Prachya.

In a separate e-mail interview, the 29-year-old Jeeja shared that Tom Yum Goong 2 features more than just Muay Thai.

"The martial arts in this movie will have more universal elements, more variety. And Ping-Ping's weapon will be needles, which is totally different than in any other movie. The needles are used for acupuncture treatment for her little sister's epilepsy, as well as flying poison needles, like a secret weapon. Her little sister also has her own weapons, such as a whip and a poison needle ring," said Jeeja.

One of the challenges for Jeeja was synchronising with her co-star in the fight sequences. "There are many varieties of action scenes in this movie, from two-on-two fighting to group fights. Like in the twins' action scenes, we needed to find our rhythm. We had to run, jump, and move together."

As for the plot for the sequel, Prachya revealed that the story picks up where the first movie left off. "Ekkasit Thairat, the screenwriter of 13: Game Of Death, wrote the screenplay for this movie. We have established that the main character Kham is the successor of the King's guard. The sequel begins after he saved the elephant."

In Tom Yum Goong, there was a breathtaking four-minute-long take of a fight scene with stuntmen atop a four-storey building. To create a new sensation for the sequel, Prachya filmed another non-stop action sequence. "The fighting scene is between Tony Jaa and the motorcycle gang, which lasts for 14.50 minutes. It took us eight months to film this scene.

"Unlike the previous movie, we didn't shoot any scenes abroad. We used Bangkok as the backdrop as we wanted to present a side of Bangkok that a lot of people have never seen before.

"Sometimes it's very difficult, like shooting from a helicopter. Helicopter shoots may be normal for other countries, but it's very difficult in Thailand. Not only that, we filmed the action scene with 300 moving motorbikes."

>>Tom Yum Goong 2 will be kicking its way into cinemas nationwide on Thursday. Grab a copy of The Star today to find out how you can win tickets to watch the movie. 

Danny Trejo is grateful to be alive


The Machete Kills actor shares stories from his colourful past.

If Danny Trejo's aim had been just a little bit better, he would be dead and not starring in Machete Kills, the latest B-grade action movie from director Robert Rodriguez.

In 1968, during one of his incarcerations during the early years of his life, Trejo found himself in the middle of a prison riot at San Quentin Prison, California. He threw a rock that struck one of the prison guards. Had the stone killed the guard, Trejo would have been given the death penalty.

"In Lt Givens' report, he wrote one of the prisoners threw the rock. He didn't name me. So, by the grace of God, I didn't die. That's when I dedicated my life to helping other people," Trejo says. "Since then, every good that's happened to me has come as a direct result of helping someone else."

After leaving prison, Trejo began to counsel others and has continued to share his message that how you start in life isn't how you have to end your life. One of the perks of becoming such a recognisable actor is that he can go to a juvenile hall or school campus and grab the attention of those who recognise him from films like Con Air and Spy Kids.

"When I go to youth authorities, you already see 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids with no hope. They already know they are going to spend the rest of their life going in and out of prison," Trejo says. "So when I show up, and I've been where they are sitting, you immediately see the light of hope go on in their eyes.

"I tell them that education is the key to anything you want to do and any problem you have is going to get worse with drugs and alcohol."

Trejo's life took a major swing when he was 40 years old. The Los Angeles native was offered a job as an extra and boxing instructor (a skill he picked up in prison) on the feature film Runaway Train. He's been a working actor ever since.

For a decade, Trejo appeared in a variety of TV shows and films, often playing one of the bad guys or an anti-hero. It was the 1995 movie Desperado that started his transformation from a tough-looking supporting player into an action film star. Desperado director Robert Rodriguez knew then he wanted to make a movie with Trejo as the star, but the right vehicle took years to find.

Trejo played Uncle Machete in the Spy Kids movies from Rodriguez and then created the knife-wielding character for a fake movie trailer in the 2007 release Grindhouse. Rodriguez and Trejo were told after Grindhouse that they should make a full feature on Machete, which resulted in the 2010 film and now the sequel.

He's 69 years old, but Trejo shows no signs of slowing down. Along with Machete Kills, Trejo has 17 movies ready to be released, two more filming and four others getting ready to start. Because Rodriguez shoots at such a quick pace – Machete Kills was filmed in 29 days – there was little time to rest. That's the way Trejo likes to work.

"I don't want to go back to my trailer to sit and wait. To me, a trailer is like a cell," Trejo says. "If you are a prima donna, you don't want to be in a Robert Rodriguez movie because he'll eat you up. His attitude is 'Let's get this done'. Robert loves what he's doing and his love just filters down."

Whether he's the star or a supporting player, it's easy to spot Trejo's distinctive face in films. Although he's a man of great faith, deeply committed to his family and possesses a great sense of humour, his etched features and long hair can give come people the wrong impression.

"I was shopping in Albertson's one day and I saw these two little old ladies looking at me like I was on America's Most Wanted. When I left the store, the police were waiting for me. The women had called them. The cops just laughed when they saw it was me," Trejo says.

"The little old ladies were scared to death of me. It was so cute." — The Fresno Bee/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Related stories: 

Machete Kills: Full swing ahead

Machete Kills review


The Star Online: Business

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Mier: Malaysia needs to speed up structural reforms


KUALA LUMPUR: There should be no more delay in implementing structural reforms to address weakening fundamentals in an economy faced with soaring deficits and a shrinking current account surplus due to slowing exports.

"Malaysia needs to strengthen its degree of resilient by continuing with structural adjustment programmes and institutional reforms," said Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier) executive director Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid.

He said the policies, strategic reform initiatives and programmes of the New Economic Model, the Economic Transformation Programme and the 10th Malaysia Plan should be implemented and not remain on hold.

Zakariah was speaking to reporters in a briefing on the Malaysian economic outlook yesterday. He said the Government would need to find the political will to implement the bold measures needed to curb discretionary and populist-style spending.

He noted that the public accounts had been in deficit for a long time and bold measures were required for financial consolidation.

He said that with the potential risk of twin deficits, especially with the shrinking current account surplus and new expenditure commitments, the emerging weakness in economic fundamentals and changes in global economic landscape need to be addressed in the upcoming budget.

He added that the Government had actually taken several initiatives in its transformation agenda, but "the speed is not enough and more should be done".

He said more initiatives and programmes needed to be implemented so the Government would be able to reduce its budget deficit to 3.5% in 2014 as well as preserve market confidence in the long term.

Nonetheless, the most anticipated revenue-enhancing reforms such as the goods and services tax (GST) would not be implemented anytime soon, Zakariah opined.

"It will take from seven to 15 months for preparation including setting up the infrastructure," he said.

It has been reported that the GST is expected to be effective come 2015.

Mier has projected growth of between 5% and 5.5% for next year, supported by the expected fiscal strategies and measures to rein in the budget deficit, generally tight financial conditions and enhanced downside risks.

Meanwhile, it also believes that relying on heavy private consumption to drive the economy is not sustainable in the medium and long term.

"Consumption-driven economy will lead to not only rising inflation and demand for higher wages, but more importantly led to accumulation of household debt and adding risk to financial stability," it said in its recent third quarter 2013 update report.

VEGOILS/PALM OIL - Market factors to watch Oct 23 9wednesday)


KUALA LUMPUR: The following factors are likely to influence Malaysian palm oil futures and other vegetable oil markets on Wednesday.
*  Malaysian palm oil futures climbed to a fresh one-and-a-half month high on
Tuesday, reversing losses in the morning session on growers' estimates that
output in the world's second-largest producer fell in October instead of
*  U.S. soybean futures turned lower on Tuesday on active harvesting of the U.S.
soybean crop and persistent reports of better-than-expected yields. 
* U.S. oil prices sank below $98 to their lowest in nearly four months on
Tuesday, while European Brent held firm, as fears of a near-term U.S. crude
surplus pushed the spread between the two oil contracts to its widest gap since
* Australian stocks tested five-year highs and the dollar was stuck near a
two-year low against the euro on Wednesday after disappointing U.S. jobs data
firmly pushed expectations for the tapering of Federal Reserve stimulus into
next year. 
* Gold surged on Tuesday after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs creation in
September boosted the precious metal's safe haven edge, while the dollar's sharp
fall against the euro lifted other commodities priced in the U.S. currency.
> EU states back biodiesel duties on Argentina, Indonesia    
> Taiwan's BSPA buys 120,000 T soybeans from U.S. -trade     
> USDA says U.S. soybean harvest 63 pct complete, corn 39 pct 
> USDA to make up for harvest samples missed during shutdown [ID;nL1N0IB1VF]

> Cargo surveyors Intertek Testing Services and Societe Generale de Surveillance
will release Malaysia's Oct. 1-25 palm oil export data on Oct. 25.

 Key commodity markets at 2343 GMT
  Contract        Month    Last   Change     Low    High  Volume
  RINGGIT/USD             3.154    -0.02   3.157   3.168        
  CHINA PALM OLEIN MAY4       0    +0.00       0       0       0
  CHINA SOYOIL     MAY4       0    +0.00       0       0       0
  CBOT SOYOIL      DEC3   41.64    +0.12    0.00    0.00       0
  NYMEX CRUDE      DEC3   98.12    -0.18   98.05   98.20    1170
  CBOT soy oil in U.S. cents per pound
  Dalian soy oil in Chinese yuan per tonne
  Crude in U.S. dollars per barrel
 - Reutes

Facebook removes beheading video, updates violence images standards


SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc removed a video of a woman being beheaded from its website on Tuesday and said it would use a broader set of criteria to determine when gory videos are permitted on the site.

The move came a day after a public outcry over news reports that Facebook, the world's No. 1 social network with 1.15 billion members, had lifted a temporary ban on images of graphic violence.

Facebook said on Monday that gory videos, such as a video of a masked man beheading a woman inMexico, are permitted on its site so long as the content is posted in a manner intended for its users to "condemn" the acts rather than celebrate them.

But Facebook said on Tuesday that it had decided to "strengthen" its enforcement of the policy.

"When we review content that is reported to us, we will take a more holistic look at the context surrounding a violent image or video," Facebook said in a statement.

"Second, we will consider whether the person posting the content is sharing it responsibly, such as accompanying the video or image with a warning and sharing it with an age-appropriate audience," Facebook said.

The change underscores a challenge for Facebook as it seeks to position itself as the go-to online destination where people share up-to-the-minute images and discuss breaking news events.

While Facebook polices its site to remove pornography, hate speech and other forbidden content, the company must also make a judgment about when certain grizzly images, such as video of a terrorist attack, are in the public interest versus being shared for "sadistic pleasure."

Facebook acknowledged on Tuesday that its previous approach, which permitted the video of the woman's killing in Mexico to remain on its site, was flawed.

"Based on these enhanced standards, we have re-examined recent reports of graphic content and have concluded that this content improperly and irresponsibly glorifies violence. For this reason, we have removed it," the company said.

- Reuters


The Star Online: Nation

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Deepavali sweeter with ladoo


KLANG: There are many varieties of Indian sweetmeats but the ball-shaped ladoo still "reigns supreme". And there can be no better testimony of this than when Deepavali is around the corner.

And it is selling like hot cakes at the Punjabi Sweet Corner, one of Klang's renowned Indian sweetmeat stalls.

The stall, located at Little India in Jalan Tengku Kelana, sells about 1,200 ladoo daily during this period.

Other popular delicacies there include the pakora and vadai.

According to shop assistant Jarnail Singh, 28, the number of ladoo sold increased as the Festival of Lights approached.

"Normally, I sell about 500 ladoo a day. But this increases greatly during Deepavali," he said.

The sweetmeats shop sells four types of ladoo – regular, Punjabi ladoo, orange and the semolina varieties – with the regular as the most popular.

The stall, which has been operating there over the past 19 years, is owned by Klang resident Dalbir Kaur.

Dalbir's daughter Sharanjit Kaur, 32, said high quality ghee and dairy products were used to make the ladoo.

&#39;Bullet boy&#39; still feeling traumatised


IPOH: Mohd Amar Mohd Azizi is recovering well after a bullet was successfully removed from behind his throat, although he is still traumatised by the shooting.

Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital neurosurgeon Dr Cheang Chee Keong said Mohd Amar, 10, was also given sedatives to calm down.

"He is extremely traumatised by the incident," he said at a press conference held by Perak Health Committee chairman Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi at the hospital yesterday.

"He would even cry at the sight of doctors and nurses checking on him," he added.

Dr Cheang said Mohd Amar could face an uphill battle to recover psychologically and emotionally.

"His neck could recover after two to three months, but he may never recover if he continues to be stressed. I again urge the people to give him space to recuperate," he said.

Mohd Amar was hit by a stray bullet from an off-duty policeman's service revolver in Kampung Belanja Kiri, Parit last Monday.

The bullet was lodged between Mohd Amar's skull and neck bone, just a centimetre from his spinal cord and arteries for six days and it was removed by a team of specialists on Sunday.

Dr Cheang said Mohd Amar could be discharged from hospital in the next two days, adding that the boy was currently under observation at the hospital's intensive care unit.

"He is in stable condition and he can talk and drink water.

"He will need to wear a neck collar support for about two to three months for his neck bone to heal," he said.

"Scans show that there are cracks on his neck bone and we will need to review his condition after two months to see if a surgery is needed."

Dr Cheang also stressed that Mohd Amar should be allowed to recuperate and advised against being visited by anyone except for family members.

Two BN MPs not in favour of changes to Penal Code


THE proposed mandatory jail sentences for those convicted of vandalism and insulting the national flag saw two Barisan Nasional lawmakers voice their disagreement to this amendment to the Penal Code.

Although agreeing for the need to protect the sanctity of the Jalur Gemilang, Datuk Seri Azalina Oth­man (BN-Pengerang) asked: "What if it is just a youth who did not think of the consequences of his actions?

"Under the proposed law, he will be jailed with thieves, rapists and murders and will eventually come out (of jail) worst off."

She suggested that youth offenders in such situations be given mandatory counselling rather than imprisonment as they might merely be "naughty" or "insane" when defiling the national flag.

Under the proposed amendments, a person may face a jail sentence of not less than five years and up to 15 years jail upon conviction under the new Section 121E.

Azalina also pointed out that the proposed amendments to impose mandatory punishment on those harbouring or protecting suspected gang members might lead to unjust situations.

"What if an ex-husband runs back to his former wife's house on the pretext that he loves his children?

"It would mean that his former wife will be jailed under the new law for harbouring him," she said when debating the amendments in the Dewan Rakyat during the second reading.

She urged the Government to retract the Bill and she was supported by Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan).

"This law is not good. It makes our country look like a jail. If my friend (Azalina) asked to retract the Bill, I also ask for it," he said.

He cited the proposed law on vandalism where village folks, who might be innocently putting up posters and carrying a knife, would be subjected to jail if convicted for vandalism based on the wordings of the law.

His opinion drew support from several opposition lawmakers who taunted Bung Mokhtar for changing his stance after the recent Umno polls.

"If the law is not good, why support it? I am not like the Opposition members who always follow what their boss says," he retorted.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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<i>Machete Kills</i>: Full swing ahead


Robert Rodriguez's low-budget Machete Kills makes a killing at the box office.        

Studios are risk-adverse. Good ideas cannot flourish. All the best work is being done in television ... So go the complaints of many a US filmmaker.

But not low-budget director Robert Rodriguez, whose "fun" and "wacky" action film Machete Kills, featuring Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Antonio Banderas and Lady Gaga, comes in the wake of the box-office success of Machete.

Rodriguez, 45, whose films include From Dusk Till Dawn with George Clooney and the Spy Kids series, doesn't waste time wringing his hands about the state of the industry.

"With the rising costs of marketing, it's harder for the studios to take the gambles and risks like they used to," he said in an interview in Paris, France.

"Even the Weinsteins can't take the risks that they used to take, so it is difficult because you need to be able to take risks to find new ideas," he said – the Weinsteins being independent-film backers Bob and Harvey, co-founders of Miramax studios and The Weinstein Company.

Rodriguez says that far from forcing him into a creative strait-jacket, low-budget movie making has left him free to experiment.

Machete, with its comic-book violence and action sequences, was made for just US$13mil (RM41.6mil), while Machete Kills – in which actor Danny Trejo returns as Machete, an ex-federal agent in Mexico – cost not much more, around US$17mil (RM54.4mil).

"When I do something, I try to make it the kind of movie that will make some money. Then I can experiment all I want because if it's succesful it's a big success because it didn't cost very much," said Rodriguez.

"And if it doesn't do well at the box office, it's still a success because it didn't cost very much. It's a win-win situation ... Then you can make movies for ever," he said.

Rodriguez turns his hand to whatever he can in order to free up cash to hire the best actors, albeit just for a day or two.

"Most action films like that are about 100 days. This was 29 days so Charlie Sheen was there one day, Lady Gaga was there one day ... Mel Gibson was there three days," he said.

"It was fast, so it was challenging."

It's ridiculous, like Bugs Bunny.

Nor is Rodriguez averse to picking up the phone to get the big names in his films. After Machete was released, Rodriguez saw that Lady Gaga had told the press she was a fan of the film and wished her song Americano could have been in it.

"When I hear that someone loves my films, I'll call them up and try and get them in the sequel," Rodriguez said.

"So I called her and asked her, 'If I wrote you a part would you be interested in acting?'."

In Machete Kills, Sheen – credited using his real name, Carlos Estevez – plays a US president who recruits Trejo's character to track down a "madman revolutionary" and an eccentric billionaire arms dealer planning to spread war and anarchy around the globe.

Unashamedly "over-the-top", Rodriguez said comedy was an essential feature of his work.

"It's because I started as a cartoonist, so it's how I am. I can't help it. If the tone was really serious I couldn't do half of what I do, it would be unwatchable," he said, adding that the violence in his films was a bit like Bugs Bunny.

"It's so ridiculous (like) Bugs Bunny ... always putting his gun in the duck's mouth and blowing his beak off.

"That's what this is, Machete is shot so many times and he's fine five minutes later, he never dies so you get it right away. It's one of those kind of movies," he said. – AFP

Related stories: 

Danny Trejo is grateful to be alive

Machete Kills review


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The Heart Of The Plate


MOLLIE Katzen believes "vegetarian" should be used as an adjective rather than a noun.

"I like to avoid the labels that keep people in different camps," says the Berkeley, California-based cookbook author, whose 1977 Moosewood Cookbook served as a Rosetta stone of sorts in giving the larger public an awareness and understanding of vegetarian cooking.

Her newest book is called The Heart of the Plate. The plant-centred recipes are designed to be adapted – dairy items, say, can be removed to make a dish vegan. Or, conversely, one might want to pair a piece of leftover steak alongside. Katzen is cool with wherever a cook wants to go. For her today, vegetarian cooking is less about keeping meat off a plate and more about putting on more vegetables.

"Once you buy it and use it, it becomes your book," she explains. "You can turn the recipe into something that is completely yours."

Katzen helps you do that with a chapter devoted to sauces, vinaigrettes, toppings and other touches to allow all different types of eaters to customise a common dish to their own tastes and beliefs.

Don't worry about the "new generation" in the subtitle. It's not a reference to age, she says, but an attempt to stress how important it is to learn new things and new flavours. Katzen, too, has been evolving as a cook.

"A beautiful plate of food, simply cooked, maximally flavored, and embracing as many plant components as will harmoniously fit" is how she defines her cuisine in the book. "My food is sharper, livelier, spicier, lighter, and more relaxed than it used to be."

"I still cook from the Moosewood Cookbook sometimes," Katzen says. "I'm much more inclined to keep the food as different components where I once put it all into one place, added sunflower seeds, eggs and cheese, and baked it.

"My initial cooking was to swap-in for the meat ... Now, my cooking is more confident. This idea has been around enough. And ingredients are so good. There is brighter, prettier produce and beautiful olive oils now. It was hard to find even fresh broccoli then and you couldn't find good olive oil when I started cooking." – Chicago Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Related story:

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Gratin With Potatoes And Spinach

The Luminaries


This year's Man Booker prize winner is an intricately crafted shaggy dog story.

The Luminaries

Author: Eleanor Catton

Publisher: Little, Brown & Co, 848 pages

ELEANOR Catton is an extraordinary writer. Her first novel, The Rehearsal (2008), was a marvellously peculiar and technically perfect story of a story within a story – or stories, actually – that had the reader's mind spinning with the complexities of its narrative invention. The plot – a group of teenage girls acting out the consequences of a sex scandal at their school – was set loose from the very premise of storytelling.

Whether what was taking place on the page was an account of events or only words in a script, no more than a rehearsal for what may or may not have happened ... none of it mattered. It was wild.

The Luminaries is every bit as exciting. Apparently a classic example of 19th-century narrative, set in the 19th century, with all the right-sounding syntax, clothing and props, the project twists into another shape altogether as we read, and continue to read.

The book is massive – weighing in at a mighty 832 pages. But every sentence of this intriguing tale set on the wild west coast of southern New Zealand during the time of its goldrush is expertly written, every cliffhanger chapter-ending making us beg for the next to begin. The Luminaries has been perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.

But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat.

For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it. That's the point, in the end, I think, of The Luminaries.

It's not about story at all. It's about what happens to us when we read novels – what we think we want from them – and from novels of this size, in particular. Is it worthwhile to spend so much time with a story that in the end isn't invested in its characters? Or is thinking about why we should care about them in the first place the really interesting thing? Making us consider so carefully whether we want a story with emotion and heart or an intellectual idea about the novel in the disguise of historical fiction. ... There lies the real triumph of Catton's remarkable book.

As in her first novel, Catton manages her multiple storylines with deft assurance, winding up a skein of a mystery that's rich with secrets, sex and opium, a doomed love affair, murder and double dealing. It opens like a play, in a town called Hokitika, late at night – with an English gentleman blown through the door of the local inn, out of the weather and straight into the midst of a very strange crowd indeed.

"The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met. From the variety of their comportment and dress – frock coats, tailcoats, Norfolk jackets with buttons of horn, yellow moleskin, cambric, and twill – they might have been twelve strangers on a railway car, each bound for a separate quarter of the city that possessed fog and tides enough to divide them."

The sense of staginess here, of set design and costume and figures placed in a room, recalls Henry James's The Art Of The Novel, when he writes about managing plot and drama as though directing a play. Full of theatrical detail and action that reads as carefully as stage directions, everything about the way this story is presented makes us think of James's "divine principle of the scenario".

In the same way, this drama relies on the confessions and revelations of its players who relate their version of events – it's both a realistic-seeming account of characters' individual actions and a melodramatic, highly wrought, artificial piece of tale-telling.

The way that tale is told changes throughout the book, too, moving from a story told by insiders to an outsider, to the narration of a series of connected events, finally ending with its beginning. All the time, Catton wants us to be aware that this is fiction we are involved with (an authorial presence is generally referred to; there are numerous hypertextual moments that underline that fact, with the word damned appearing as d---ed; introductory summaries are given at the start of every chapter). Her commitment to the artificiality of her project is complete.

But the problem is that as we read on, we don't read in. It is a curious act of double-writing that Catton has achieved – that she could write more and more about a thing, only to have it matter less and less. The characters don't gain depth as the story proceeds; they slip further away from us. The more words given to them, the less we know anything much about them. The last section of the book is an act of bravado analepsis, with chapters thinning out into mere pages as the backstory is laid out.

The same intriguing, undoing kind of writing works on the world of the book, too; its setting and details. So we may read and read about the weather, about the interiors of rooms, the costumes people wear, the food on their plates, the New Zealand riverbank and mists and waters, the sound of its rain hammering on a tin roof.... Yet these details don't come together to be compressed into a reality we care about and inhabit.

If the book has been made as a kind of stage, then these are the stage sets – not real to look at, only made of paper and glue. In the end, Catton's wondrous 19th-century New Zealand and its rivers of gold may as well be as far away from us as the colony would have been once to a British reader. Out of sight, out of mind.

Those girls in Catton's first novel, literary constructs though they may have been, gathered up our concern as the story went on. We were involved in what happened; we cared about those words on the page. Here, it is as though the opposite is made to be the case.

Catton has created her own world in The Luminaries – an upside-down, southern hemisphere place with its own astrological calendar that casts its own kind of influence, its own light. The clue is in the title, after all, and in the confusing frontispiece that the publishers might have made more of, to alert the general reader to the fabulous trick of the book they hold: that this great, intricately crafted doorstopper of a historical novel, with its portentous introduction, astrological tables, character charts and all the rest, in fact weighs nothing at all.

Decide for yourself, Reader, at the end of all your reading, what you think of that: is "nothing" enough? – Guardian News & Media

The Burgess Boys


The Burgess Boys

Author: Elizabeth Strout

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 320 pages

ELIZABETH Strout is a Pulitzer prize-winning American writer whose reputation has grown steadily since her first novel, Amy And Isabelle, which was shortlisted for the Orange prize (now the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction). She also works as a lawyer, and her expertise informs the plot of The Burgess Boys, where a legal drama is at the centre of the story.

Among her greatest achievements is the creation of the fictional small town Shirley Falls, Maine, the setting for several of her works, including this remarkable novel.

Shirley Falls represents many places where the manufacturing industry has died, the young people have left and newcomers, in this case Somali immigrants with memories of atrocities and loss, have made their homes.

The Burgess boys, Jim and Bob, are New York lawyers on the verge of mid-life crises. They are remembered in their hometown of Shirley Falls for two reasons; the first is that when they were children, little Bob caused the car accident that changed all their lives.

Until then, the Burgesses were a picture-perfect family who lived in a yellow house on top of a hill.

Then came the day their father left the children in the car for a few minutes while he fixed the mailbox, and it rolled down the hill and killed him.

Bob, disobeying strict instructions, had been fiddling with the gears. It was an event so terrible that the family has never spoken of it.

The other reason for the Burgess family's local fame came later, when Jim, as the defence lawyer in the celebrity trial of a popular singer, obtained an acquittal. That case, later overshadowed by the OJ Simpson trial, launched him on a glittering career.

Jim is the golden boy to whom all the family looks for salvation: brother Bob, in contrast, works for legal aid, is divorced and childless.

Then there is Susan, the third sibling, who has stayed behind in Shirley Falls. Susan was a pretty child but nobody liked her very much. Perhaps if her daddy had lived she would have blossomed, but as it is, her husband has left her and she lives with her teenage son Zach, who precipitates the crisis of the novel.

Zach, fatherless, friendless, fits the profile of the kid who turns a machine gun on his classmates, but instead he perpetrates a hate crime of the most monumental offensiveness, ignorance and ineptitude during Ramadan.

Susan calls her brothers for help, and Bob and Jim return to Shirley Falls when Zach is arrested and the incident gains nation-wide notoriety.

It might come as no surprise that Jim, who habitually belittles his little brother – his terms of endearment are "Knucklehead" and "Slob-dog" – is not all that he seems, or that his snobbish wife,

Helen, though she is accorded her own poignancy, is essentially hateful, or that neither was the perfect parent they supposed themselves to be.

Their hubris, complacency and, on occasion, malice, will be punished, and yet they are not condemned entirely.

In the end, though, this is not a story of good versus evil but a complex and bold examination of political and family relationships, of the long-term effect of guilt and lies, of people's motives and failures and muddled intentions.

The image of the Ramadan incident persists, like the yellow house on the hill, as strongly as anything in this engrossing, memorable and, despite everything, hopeful bulletin from Shirley Falls. – Guardian News & Media


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Suu Kyi finally gets EU Sakharov rights prize


STRASBOURG, France: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday finally received the EU's Sakharov rights prize she won in 1990 at the height of a brutal military crackdown, but said her work was not yet done.

Members of the European Parliament gave Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi a standing ovation as she accepted the award from the parliament's president Martin Schulz.

"You demonstrate that people who fight for democracy will triumph in the end," Schulz said. "I congratulate you.... You are a great symbol of freedom and democracy."

Dressed in a striking traditional costume of bright yellow and dark green, Suu Kyi gracefully downplayed the praise, saying much work was still to be done to bring full democracy to Myanmar.

Recalling how the military prevented her National League for Democracy from taking power after she won elections in 1990, Suu Kyi asked: "Where are we now? We have made progress since 1990 but we have not made sufficient progress."

She said her people were "just beginning to learn" that they can ask questions, stressing that the current military-backed constitution must be changed "so that it is a really democratic one."

Suu Kyi, 68, spent 15 years under house arrest before she was freed after elections in 2010 produced a quasi-civilian government regime.

Myanmar President Thein Sein, who took power in March 2011, has earned international recognition for reforms since then that include freeing political prisoners, with Western sanctions largely lifted.

But the military and its political allies remain in control of parliament, and religious violence and the continued arrests of activists have tempered optimism.

The current Myanmar constitution would block Suu Kyi from becoming president in elections scheduled for 2015 as it excludes anyone whose spouses or children are foreign nationals.

Her two sons are British nationals through their father, the late scholar Michael Aris.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament awarded Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai the prestigious 50,000-euro ($65,000) Sakharov prize, whose past winners include South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, with the award accepted on her behalf by her sons.-AFP

Sultan of Brunei introduces tough Islamic punishments


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei:  The Sultan of Brunei introduced tough Sharia-law punishments on Tuesday including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, hailing what he called a "historic" step toward Islamic orthodoxy for his sleepy country.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - one of the world's wealthiest men - said a new Sharia Penal Code in the works for years was officially introduced Tuesday in the tiny, oil-flush sultanate and would be phased in beginning in six months.

Based on individual cases, punishments could include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption, according to a copy of the code.

The code applies only to Muslims.

"By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled," the sultan, 67, said in a speech.

An absolute monarch whose family has tightly controlled the languid, oil-rich country of 400,000 for six centuries, the sultan first called in 1996 for the introduction of Sharia criminal punishments.

The sultan already imposes a relatively conservative brand of Islam on his subjects, compared to Brunei's Southeast Asian Muslim neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Brunei bans the sale and public consumption of alcohol and closely restricts other religions.
But Sharia has been a rare point of contention in a land where the sultan's word is unquestioned, with many Bruneians quietly grumbling that the concept is out of step with the affluent country's laid-back ethnic Malay society.

"These rights-abusing policies are a good indication of why modern democracy and the right of people to participate in their government is a much better idea than anachronistic absolute monarchy," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

The situation shows that "respect for basic civil and political rights is near zero in Brunei," he added.
The monarch himself has acknowledged concerns over Sharia in recent years as the code was being drafted.

Compatible with Malay culture?

It was not immediately clear how aggressively it would be enforced.
Two years ago, the Attorney-General's office promised Brunei would apply an extremely high burden of proof for Sharia cases and judges would have wide discretion in applying it, in comments apparently aimed at easing public fears.

"It seems almost incompatible with Malay culture, which is peace-loving," said Tuah Ibrahim, 57, driver of a boat taxi in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.

He said Sharia can be acceptable if proportionate to the crime, but adds: "I can't imagine our country turning into somewhere like Saudi Arabia."

Brunei already has a dual system combining civil courts based on British law - the sultanate was a British protectorate until 1984 - and Sharia-compliant courts limited to personal and family issues such as marriage and inheritance.

Nearly 70 percent of Brunei's people are Muslim ethnic Malays. About 15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese, followed by indigenous tribes and other groups.

Bankrolled by South China Sea oil and gas fields, Brunei has one of Asia's highest standards of living, including free medical care and education through the university level.

The monarch's wealth - estimated at $20 billion by Forbes magazine two years ago - and luxurious lifestyle have become legendary, with reports emerging of his vast collection of luxury vehicles and gold-bedecked palaces.

The monarchy was deeply embarassed by a sensational family feud between Hassanal and his younger brother Jefri Bolkiah over the latter's alleged embezzlement of 15 billion dollars during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s.

Subsequent court battles and exposes revealed salacious details of Jefri's un-Islamic jet-set lifestyle, including allegations of a high-priced harem of Western paramours and a luxury yacht he owned called "Tits."

Despite a suave image overseas, the sultan repeatedly warns at home of the potential impact that increasing integration with the world could have on Brunei's moral values and has leaned towards Islamic orthodoxy of late.

In the past year, the government introduced mandatory religious education for all Muslim children and ordered all businesses closed during Friday prayers.

In his speech, the sultan appeared to try to assuage any international concerns that may arise, saying the Sharia change "does not in any way change our policies ... as a member of the family of nations." - AFP


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Mini-IVF is &#39;more effective and less expensive&#39;


Scientists call new method a 'very significant breakthrough' in fertility treatment for women.

A NEW IVF treatment, dubbed mini-IVF, has been found to have twice the success rates as the conventional method, especially for women aged 35-45. Plus, the new technique uses fewer drugs and can be done during a woman's lunch hour, rather than half a day, scientists say.

The method, developed by an IVF pioneer, Dr Sherman Silber, is about half the price of traditional IVF treatments. Even better, the treatment has virtually no side effects, The Telegraph reports.

"This is a very significant breakthrough," he reportedly said at this week's American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Boston, where he shared findings from a trial of 520 women. "It was amazing to see the results, especially in women over the age of 40." Silber practises at the Infertility Center of St Louis, Missouri, in the United States.

For the method, women take a low dose of a fertility drug for 10 to 12 days – by taking low dosages of standard medication over a longer period, women were found to avoid the problem of premature ovulation and produced eggs of better quality. Once the eggs are large enough, around 10 days later, doctors can remove them during a five-minute operation that doesn't require general anaesthesia.

Success rates for women over 35 were found to be a third higher with the new treatment compared to women undergoing conventional IVF. The results were even better among women over 40 years, with the new method twice as likely to result in pregnancy compared to the conventional fertility treatment. – AFP Relaxnews

Look good, feel better


Model-turned-actress Jenvine Ong shares her secrets for looking good onscreen.

MODEL-turned-actress Jenvine Ong used to be an ugly duckling. The lanky 23-year-old recalls being a "nerd" with weight issues and skin problems back in secondary school.

"I was studying in the library one day, when someone walked up to me and said: 'Miss, you are really ugly,' and then he walked away."

"I didn't even know that guy," she says, but his comment hit a nerve. "That was when I saw that no matter how well you perform academically, or how good a person you are, you will always be judged by your looks. That's when I told myself, I have to be pretty no matter what."

The following years would see the young lady transform into a swan that would stop any guy in his tracks. Ong went on to become a model, a beauty queen, and an actress.

While her exotic features have made her a much sought-after commodity among casting agencies, Ong admits she has lost a number of career opportunities because of her body. "Casting agents would tell me straight that I have a beautiful face, but I have a flabby body, and that I was fat."

Earlier this year, Ong bagged the title of second runner-up at the Miss Chinese Cosmos South-East Asia pageant.

With her sights now set on the Hong Kong and Taiwan entertainment scenes, the budding entertainer is more determined than ever to cut the fat and shape up.

"I have lost weight since, but my manager still wants me to lose about six kilos," says the 1.69m beauty, who currently weighs 52kg.

Jenvine Ong's fitness regime

I was amazed at how much stronger I'd become (after martial arts training). My body has also gained a lot more tone. —JENVINE ONG

"You have to be really thin to look good on television."

Ong shares that her problem areas are her arms and her thighs. "When you're on screen or in front of the camera, it doesn't matter how flat your stomach is, or how thin your thigh is. If your face and arms look fat, you will look horrible."

To get herself camera-ready, Ong, a former state athlete who represented Selangor in table-tennis in her teens, shares that she follows a regular exercise routine to maintain her slender physique. They include:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Ong, who juggles her time between modelling and acting, shares that she does not have a lot of time to hit the gym. To stay fit, she relies on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a form of interval training that alternates between short, intense bursts of anaerobic exercise and short recovery periods.

These short, intense workouts, varying from four to 30 minutes, have been shown to improve athletic capacity and condition, glucose metabolism, and facilitate fat burning.

Ong shares that she follows a programme called m100 by fitness trainer Mike Chang, who runs the popular online site

The m100 programme claims that you can burn up to 500 calories in just five minutes – that's more calories than half-an-hour of running, she says.

"I start with three sets of 10 burpees, 10 mountain-climbers, and 10 squats, then finish with another 10 burpees. That's 100 reps altogether," she shares.

"Sometimes, I do it twice a day when I'm feeling fat."


When she's not busy posing for the camera, Ong enjoys a good session of hiking. "I used to go hiking about two times a week. I always go in a group, so it is really fun. It also helps build teamwork.

"The best thing is that hiking actually helps burn a lot of calories, and it certainly beats running or working out alone at the gym."

A somewhat underrated exercise, hiking is a great cardiovascular workout. Going up and down hills provides excellent benefits for the heart.

It is also friendlier on the joints than high-impact exercises such as running, and offers psychological benefits to boot. Hiking takes you away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, resulting in feelings of relaxation and enhanced well-being that come on after a long walk in nature.

Martial arts

Ong's first experience with martial arts came when she had to prep for her role as a police woman in her debut film, Gemeilia. Not only did the actress learn how to kick butt in the process, she developed a keen interest in the sport.

"The director thought I didn't have the 'style' of a police woman, and decided that I should take kungfu classes to toughen up. So he sent me for a month-long training," she shares.

"By the end of it, I was amazed at how much stronger I'd become. My body had also gained a lot more tone."

Whether you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health, lose weight, or have a cheaper alternative to anger management, martial arts may just be what you need.

For those who are driven by aesthetics, martial arts can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass that you have, enhancing that "toned" look that you see in athletes.

The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic demands will be – this means you will be burning more calories every day, even while at rest.

While it is unlikely to give you the ability to navigate roof tops, regular sessions of martial arts training can help improve your agility and reflexes. Over time, these newfound skills will result in faster reaction times, and will seep into other aspects of your life, including daily activities such as driving or dodging an annoying colleague.

For optimum results, try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes for at least five times a week.

"I aspire to be a kungfu star, just like Michelle Yeoh," says a smiling Ong.

Despite her blossoming career, Ong shares that she sometimes gets moody from the stress and her diet.

"Unfortunately, I gain weight easily, so I have to be careful with what I eat.

"The problem is, I like to eat, and my friends like to eat, and it can get very frustrating when I'm hanging out with them and I can't enjoy the same food that they're enjoying."

She deals with the frustration by keeping her goals in mind. "I have been in this industry ever since I was 19, and I realise that I haven't made it big yet, partly because of my weight.

"So whenever I get frustrated now, I always remind myself that if you want something, you have to work hard for it, because nothing ever comes easily, and I will work very hard to achieve my goals."


Name: Jenvine Ong

Date of birth: Jan 12, 1990 (age 23)

Measurements: 34-25-35

Hobbies: Playing the piano, snowboarding, sports (gym), dancing, martial arts, and reading health magazines

Dislikes: People who are rude and don't respect other people.

Status: Single


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