Isnin, 25 November 2013

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Govt will continue to help Malays, says Shanmugam


The Government is committed to helping the Malay community in Singapore, Law and Foreign Min­ister K. Shanmugam (pic) said.

He was speaking as the guest of honour at a ceremony which gave out S$1.2mil (RM3.1mil) worth of bursaries to 789 students yesterday.

The annual event, which was held at ITE College Central this year, is organised by the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday Memorial Scholarship Fund Board, which has been giving out bursaries and scholarships to needy students of all races since 1965.

Shanmugam said the group's work has helped the Malay community make strides in the past decade.

He pointed out how last year, about nine in 10 Malay pupils who attended Primary 1 were admitted to post-secondary institutions, compared with about eight in 10 in 2003.

He also highlighted the accomplishments of Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee, who made history last year when he became the first Malay in 44 years to be awarded the President's Scholar-ship, Singapore's most prestigious undergraduate award.

However, Shanmugam said there was still cause for concern, including the small portion of pupils who do not pass the PSLE, and the divorce and drug abuse rates within the community.

He added that the Government, non-government groups, the Malay community as well as society in general have to pull together to tackle these issues.

"The Government has a laser-like focus to try and help the Malay community," he said, citing how the Government has a Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, and instituted the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund.

He revealed that other communities had questioned why they did not receive the same provisions.

"We've always taken the position that there are reasons why the Government gives additional support to the Malay community, and we will continue to give that, and please don't ask for equality. And they have accepted it." — The Straits Times / Asia News Net­work

Singaporeans have 'duty to be kind to foreign workers'


Singapore has laws to protect foreign workers' rights but citizens also have a responsibility to be kind and humane towards them, said Professor Chan Heng Chee.

Most people here already have a sense of decency, she said in opening remarks at a migrant workers' group event, and would help strangers in need and not begrudge the Government helping the poor and elderly.

This attribute should be cultivated and extended to how mi­­grant workers are treated, according to Prof Chan, Singapore's Re­­presentative to the Asean Inter­governmental Commission on Hu­­man Rights.

"It should not be the law that forces us to do so. We should treat them well, feed them adequately, allow rest time, and abuse of workers should be ruled out," she said at an event organised by the Humani-tarian Organisation for Migration Economics, or Home.

The event was held to train lawyers and volunteers from non-governmental organisations in advocating for migrants' rights.

Prof Chan said that Singaporeans by and large treat their maids well, and it was a small group of errant employers who were the problem.

She listed two other parties as having a role to play in ensuring migrant workers' rights – the hostcountry and the "sending" country.

Host governments need to pass laws and regulations to protect the welfare of migrant workers, said Prof Chan, who is also an ambassador-at-large. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

One-stop online resource centre for parents


Parents will soon get more help with infant care, such as how to sterilise milk bottles and change diapers, from an online portal launched by the People's Association.

The online portal aims to be a one-stop resource portal that will share best practices on infant care, said association chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.

It will include information such as the nearest babysitting services and paediatricians available to parents. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Soul man


Casey Abrams set to cast his spell at Penang Island Jazz Festival.

COMING off American Idol, Casey Abrams said the most sound advice he got from one of the judges was simply "do your thing." Abrams attributed the quote to music producer Randy Jackson. American Idol Season 10 alum Abrams had some memorable performances during his time on the show in 2011. Former judges which included singer Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler raved about Abrams' unique soulful performances of classics like Georgia On My Mind, I Put A Spell On You and I Don't Need No Doctor. Though he didn't win Idol (the season's winner was Scotty McCreery), Abrams took Jackson's advice and is now "doing his thing" in the music business.

Post-Idol, Abrams signed with Concord Music Group and released his self-titled debut album in 2012. On his single Simple Life, Abrams, 22, sings about not needing a television and a phone. In an email interview with Star2, he addressed the irony of the single.

"Yes, I got into people's life with TVs and phones. The point of the song is to use it in moderation. I see too many people in restaurants, playgrounds or stores on their cellphones. There is a time and place for it," he said. Perhaps being under the constant radar of impending fame on Idol has had some ill effects on Abrams.

Liyana Fizi is the opening act at the Casey Abrams concert in Penang. The American artist has hinted he would play bass on one of her tunes.

Liyana Fizi is the opening act at the Casey Abrams concert in Penang. The American artist has hinted he
would play bass on one of her tunes.

"People feel like they know me through the Internet, so it helps me a lot. But you don't need to check on me every second of the day."

Instead of checking up on Abrams online, fans can opt to catch the singer live at the Penang Island Jazz Festival (PIJF).

Abrams will be sharing the stage with local singer-songwriter Liyana Fizi on Dec 5 at the Grand Ballroom in The Bayview Beach Resort Gardens, Batu Ferringhi in Penang.

Abrams' stand-alone concert is part of the PIJF's 10th anniversary celebrations.

"This is the first time I'm coming to Malaysia to play on a stage with my own music. And it really feels good, because music is a universal language."

Abrams' music easily fits into a roots music based festival, a jazz fest, a folk fest and also a rock festival. Does he think his music adapts particularly well on any festival/concert stage?

"Yes! I would hope it does. I love playing in any environment, so I try to make my music as versatile as possible," he added.

The multi-instrumentalist will also be backed up by his band at the upcoming gig in Penang.

"I will have a guitar player that also plays bass, and a saxophone player. I shall play piano and upright bass, maybe some more surprise instruments."

The double bass is synonymous to the Casey Abrams experience. But does he pick up new instruments with ease?

"Yes I do, learning new music and new ways of interpreting songs makes me happy. If you play one song on one instrument and that same song on another instrument, it will be a little different and give you a different feeling when you hear it. So sometimes I'll play one of my songs on the accordion or sitar just to feel the song in a new way."

On his upcoming performance with Liyana, Abrams doesn't know if they'll do a duet but he's certain of one thing.

"I was thinking of maybe playing some bass for Liyana on a song."

The multi-talented singer also hinted that some songs will be given a new twist.

He also described his debut album as a "great mix of music". Fans can take that as an indication that Abrams will take them on a musical journey like no other.

"It takes you on a journey, through the mountains of my hometown, Idyllwild, to the subways of New York City. We are even in London at one point." n As part of the Penang Island Jazz Festival's 10th anniversary celebrations, Casey Abrams plays a stand-alone concert at the Grand Ballroom in The Bayview Beach Resort Gardens, Batu Ferringhi in Penang on Dec 5. He will also hold a "Workshop by Casey Abrams - Music and Life and How Music Makes You Feel" at the concert venue at 4pm. Entry by concert ticket. For more info on the PIJF festival schedule and activities, visit Tickets are available now at


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