Isnin, 16 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


Singha heiress on a mission

Posted:

BANGKOK: She is a poster child for a Thai elite campaigning to freeze democracy. But when Chitpas Bhirombhakdi is not on stage cheerleading for a self-styled "people's revolution", she is quietly preparing a bid for parliament.

It is a contradiction that highlights the dilemma facing Thailand's oldest – but by no means most popular – political party, the Democrats, whose lawmakers recently resigned en masse from parliament to join opposition street protests.

The party must soon decide whether to take part in, or boycott, a general election that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called for Feb 2 – a decision that could determine the fate of the country's fragile democracy.

"We don't know whether there's going to be a general election or not but as a politician I have to be prepared for it," Chitpas said.

The Democrat-backed street protest movement has rejected the election, raising concerns that the party may decide to boycott the polls at a key two-day meeting which started yesterday.

Known as the "Singha heiress", Chitpas' family is one of the richest in Thailand.

Its Boon Rawd Brewery makes Singha beer, an official sponsor of English Premier League giants Manchester United.

A former Democrat Party spokesman who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament two years ago, the British-educated 27-year-old says her childhood dream is to become prime minister.

Yet each night she takes to the stage to support a movement seeking to overthrow a government which won a landslide election in 2011, and to install an unelected "people's council" in its place.

The glamorous socialite – who was picked by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to play a leading role in the street movement – has led marches to besiege state buildings in Bangkok.

She has tended to wounded demonstrators, addressed the international media from the rally stage in near-flawless English and was even spotted riding in a bulldozer brought out to dismantle police barricades.

But she insists the Democrats are not turning their back on elections.

"We're not taking away democracy.

"We just need some time to reform the country before we can move on to democracy," she said, explaining that problems such as corruption and vote-buying must be tackled before free and fair elections can be held.

The problem, she added, is that many Thais lack a "true understanding of democracy ... especially in the rural areas".

The Democrats enjoy widespread support among Thailand's Bangkok-based elite and middle class.

But they have not won an elected majority in about two decades, and critics argue that the only "reforms" they are interested in are those which will end their losing streak.

They face a formidable opponent in Yingluck's brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago ushered in years of political turmoil and periodic street violence.

The Democrats last took power in 2008 by parliamentary vote after a court stripped Thaksin's allies of power, angering his "Red Shirt" supporters who launched mass street protests three years ago that ended in a military crackdown that left dozens dead.

Thaksin, who now lives in self-exile in Dubai, is adored by many outside Bangkok for his populist policies that helped to transform the country's impoverished northern hinterlands.

But the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician is reviled by the elite, Bangkok's middle class and southerners, who see him as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.

Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001, most recently with a landslide victory under Yingluck two years ago.

To solve the country's problems, "Thailand needs proper education on democracy", Chitpas said.

"In the past, before all of this happened, very little awareness was made about politics.

"In the parliament, when the bills are being passed and it's being shown live on TV, people don't watch it."

If the Democrats do choose to boycott the February elections, it will likely prolong the crisis.

"Their agenda is to get rid of Thaksin and to set up a regime of their own by bypassing the democratic process," said Pavin Cha­chaval­pongpun, an associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Japan's Kyoto University.

But without their participation in elections, Thailand's political system would face a crisis of legitimacy, he said.

Chitpas said her hope for the future is to see a government last for a full four-year term – a rarity in a country where the military and courts have a history of intervening to remove elected governments.

Even if it is a pro-Thaksin government?

"Well that's the problem," she replied. "That's why we have to fix it before we can move forward." — AFP

Migrant workers avoid Little India

Posted:

LITTLE India was quiet for the most part of Sunday with foreign workers trickling into the neighbourhood in the late afternoon.

Race Course Road, typically a busy meeting point for many workers, was unusually empty. However, some well-known retailers such as Mustafa Centre at Syed Alwi Road and the Banana Leaf Apollo restaurant along Race Course Road were bustling with activity.

Grocery and electronic stores along Serangoon Road said their takings dropped as much as 70%. They blamed the thinner crowds of foreign workers caused by the suspension of shuttle bus services from their dormitories to Little India.

Instead of going to Little India, some foreign workers decided to hang out in the neighbourhoods near their dormitories in Jurong East, Boon Lay and Jalan Kayu.

Businesses in these places such as cafes, grocery and mobile phone shops said sales were boosted by workers who came looking for alternative areas to spend their day off.

Shops at Jurong East MRT, which has an open field where the men gathered to relax, reported a 20% to 30% spike in sales as a result.

The workers said they either chose to remain in their dorms or venture into nearby neighbourhoods for meals or to buy groceries because their bosses discouraged them from going out this weekend.

Memories of last Sunday's riot at Little India was clearly on the minds of many of them. Indian national construction worker Santhosh Kota, 22, said he spent Sunday in his dorm at Jurong West to avoid trouble.

"When big groups of men are together, you don't know what will happen," he said.

Police officers were seen patrolling areas near foreign worker dormitories throughout the day.

As at 10pm, police said, there were no incidents reported, no breaches of the alcohol ban detected, and no one was caught for consuming alcohol in public. —The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Gambling and trade zeal gives rise to match fixing

Posted:

IT'S one of the world's smallest and wealthiest countries, but a deep gambling culture coupled with sheer entrepreneurial zeal has made Singapore a big player in global match-fixing, experts say.

The arrests of two Singaporean men over a scandal in Britain has again thrown a spotlight on the Southeast Asian city-state, known for its cleanliness, strict law and order and high number of millionaires.

Despite such advantages, Singapore is continually linked to match-rigging around the world, testament to a network that is proving hard to eradicate – even when leading members are under arrest or police protection.

Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, were taken in by British police this month after a video-taped sting and accused of rigging lower-tier English games.

The arrests come just months after Singapore launched its biggest crackdown on alleged match-fixers and locked up leading suspects, including purported mastermind Dan Tan.

Singapore's Wilson Raj Perumal, a notorious fixer who was jailed in Finland and is now under police protection in Hungary, denied any involvement in the English scam after one of the suspects called him his "boss".

Reports said Perumal, who says he used to work with Dan Tan and has fixed games around the world, was also named by investigators probing a multi-million dollar fixing ring in Australian state football.

The latest developments are part of a chain of events set in motion more than 20 years ago, when Perumal started fixing games in Singapore before moving abroad to escape the attentions of Singaporean police.

Easy international transport, a passport accepted around the world and fluency in English and Mandarin have helped Singaporean fixers spread their influence abroad with the support of external investors, most believed to be from China.

The island off the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia has a popular horse-racing track and its two casinos are among the hottest in the world, raking in a combined total of US$5.85bil (RM18.5bil) in 2012.

The Singapore Totalisator Board, which manages the country's two legal football betting and lottery companies, saw revenues of nearly US$800mil (RM2.5bil) in the year to March 2013, from a total population of just 5.4 million. There are also dozens of illegal football betting outfits.

Gambling is so entrenched that to keep them away from the casinos, the government has levied a US$80 (RM254) charge on Singapore nationals just to get through the doors.

When there is a road accident, locals take note of the stricken cars' licence plates to use them in a four-digit lottery, thinking the numbers have now used up all their bad luck and will bring good fortune to the punter.

"No more burying our heads in the sand, Singapore is a nation addicted to gambling, as is much of the region," said writer Neil Humphreys, author of the football novel Match Fixer.

"I no longer tell people that I have written a book on match-fixing or that I regularly write about football," he added.

"When I did in the past, the initial response was – without fail – to ask for betting tips on upcoming games. That response is uniquely Singaporean." — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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North Korean elite pledges loyalty to young leader Kim after purge

Posted: 16 Dec 2013 09:30 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's political and military elite publicly pledged their loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, less than a week after he ordered the execution of a powerful family ally in a rare public purge.

The young leader was the centre of attention at a large memorial in Pyongyang staged to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

The public display of fealty came only days after the execution last week of Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, considered the second most powerful man in North Korea.

The ousting of Jang overlaps with a propaganda drive that has tied the younger Kim to his father's legacy in the weeks leading up to the anniversary.

Official television footage showed Kim Jong Un sitting centre stage beneath a huge red mural of a flag emblazoned with a picture of his smiling father.

A noticeable absentee on the stage was his paternal aunt Kim Kyung Hui, Kim Jong Il's sister and Jang's wife. Together, she and Jang had been the "Pyongyang power couple" considered to be the real force behind the North Korean leadership.

"By eliminating the only other faction, the power in North Korea is now fully concentrated on Kim Jong Un," said Cheong Seong-jang at the Sejong institute, a Seoul-based think tank.

OUT WITH THE OLD

Kim, believed to be about 30, took over when his father died suddenly in December 2011.

In a relatively short period of time he has followed his father's programme by ordering the North's third nuclear test and successfully launching a long-range rocket in the face of increasingly tight U.N. sanctions.

He has now also removed his uncle Jang, the only leadership figure who may have posed any real threat to him.

His first two years in power have also been marked by construction, with a flagship project being the Masik Pass ski resort near Wonsan, on North Korea's east coast.

Propagandists have used the construction of the resort to coin the slogan "Masik Speed" which, similar to Kim Jong Un's rapid ascent to power, emphasises the hurried completion of a goal or project.

While North Korea has purged many officials in its 65-year history, it is rare that anyone as powerful as Jang had been removed so publicly - suggesting a recognition of internal divisions and competing factions around Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un has removed most of Pyongyang's old guard during his comparatively short rule, replacing ageing generals and cadres with figures closer to his age.

He has changed his Korean People's Army (KPA) chief of staff four times. The job changed hands three times during his father's 17 years in power.

Choe Ryong Hae, a party apparatchik who has been around the Kim family for decades but had kept out of the limelight until three years ago, now appears to be the most influential adviser to Kim Jong Un.

On Monday, Choe addressed a gathering of KPA soldiers assembled outside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where Kim Jong Il's embalmed body lies in a glass coffin.

"The KPA is the eternal army of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un and it will always remain the army of Kim Jong Un defending him unto death and upholding his leadership only," an official KCNA news agency dispatch quoted Choe as saying.

(Additional reporting by Jumin Park and Sohee Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)

Mexico's president says he will enact energy reform soon

Posted: 16 Dec 2013 09:10 PM PST

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Monday he would soon enact a sweeping overhaul of Mexico's ailing energy sector which is aimed at boosting growth in Latin America's No. 2 economy.

The reform, which changes the constitution to allow private companies to operate independently or partner with state oil giant Pemex via new types of contracts, won approval from a majority of Mexican states on Sunday, after a tense debate in Congress.

"It will be necessary to wait for a declaration from Congress's permanent committee, which will surely happen in the coming days, and once that happens, I will immediately enact the reform," Pena Nieto said while on a state visit to Turkey.

The energy overhaul is part of a raft of reforms pushed through Congress this year by Pena Nieto, including bids to boost competition in the telecoms sector and jumpstart lending.

While key reforms have been approved, some, including a political reform demanded by opposition parties to level the playing field in local elections, still lack implementing laws that hash out the fine print of the reform.

David Penchyna, a Senator for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and head of the powerful energy committee, said on Monday Congress could push through implementing laws as soon as March.

"Being optimistic, I would say that from February to March Congress will finish pending matters such as in telecommunications and definitely finish the political and energy work in which we have advanced significantly," Penchyna told a local radio station.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

China says six arrested after deadly riot in Xinjiang

Posted: 16 Dec 2013 07:15 PM PST

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have arrested six people they suspect of taking part in a riot near the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, in the restive far western Muslim region of Xinjiang, in which 16 people were killed, the regional government said.

The arrests, reported by the Xinjiang government in a statement on an official news site late on Monday, came a day after Chinese police shot and killed 14 people during the riot. Two policemen were also killed.

The government statement called the incident "an organised, pre-meditated, violent terror attack".

"The gang repeatedly gathered to watch violent, terrorist videos, promoted extremist religious ideology, manufactured explosive devices and guns, conducted test explosions several times and planned to carry out violent terrorist activities," the Xinjiang government said.

China has previously called some of the violence in Xinjiang the work of Islamist militants plotting holy war.

On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry stopped short of directly blaming Islamist militants but said a "violent terror gang" attacked police with explosives.

The Xinjiang government said the "terror gang" made up of 20 members was formed in August and was led by a person they named as Hesen Ismail.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the charges. Foreign journalists are often harassed and sometimes denied access to sensitive areas in Xinjiang.

A police officer reached by Reuters on Monday in the county where the incident occurred said it was "not convenient" to provide any additional information.

The government says police were attacked by a mob throwing explosives and wielding knives when they went to arrest "criminal suspects" in a village near Kashgar.

"The officers entered a house and found a large number of people were holding an illegal gathering," influential tabloid the Global Times, published by the Communist Party's People's Daily, quoted an unidentified Xinjiang official as saying.

"As the police carried out inquiries, some of the people remonstrated and staged a confrontation. They suddenly stabbed the police with knives. Two officers, who were caught off guard, died at the scene," the official said.

Rights groups and exiles say police often use heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim Uighur community, which calls Xinjiang home.

Many of Xinjiang's Turkic-speaking Muslim people chafe at restrictions on their culture, language and religion, although the government insists it grants them broad freedoms.

China has stepped up security in Xinjiang after a vehicle ploughed into tourists on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October, killing the three people in the car and two bystanders.

China said that attack was carried out by Islamist militants, and has reacted angrily to suggestions that it was because of frustration and anger over government repression of Muslims in Xinjiang.

There have been numerous incidents of unrest in Xinjiang in recent years, which the government often blames on the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, even though many experts and rights groups cast doubt on its existence as a cohesive group.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business


Potential re-rating for HLB, exciting year ahead

Posted:

HONG LEONG BANK BHD

By Affin Research

Add (maintain)

Target price: RM15.10

AFFIN Research reiterates its "add" rating with an unchanged price target of RM15.10, valuing Hong Leong Bank (HLB) at a price-to-book multiple of 1.8 times based on a calendar year 2014 return on equity of 14.7%, premised on a 5% growth rate and a 10.2% cost of equity.

The year ahead remains exciting for HLB as there is room for further re-rating.

HLB is well-positioned to benefit from the recovery in regional and domestic growth (2014 forecast: 5.5% versus 2013 forecast of 4.8%).

Despite headwinds arising from tighter regulation on the domestic front, we remain upbeat on management's focus to beef up its regional business while seeking organic transformational growth opportunities.

HLB's earnings prospects in financial year 2014 to 2016 (FY14-16) will be driven largely by management's focus to continue expanding its capacity and beefing up its competitiveness in the personal financial services division which is still the main contributor, at 40% of HLB's pre-tax profit as at the first quarter of financial year 2014.

New areas of growth include leveraging on the priority banking, given a strong potential to further widen the customer base (up 19% year-on-year in FY13), while revenue per customer improved by 10% y-o-y, business and corporate banking (BCB).

The BCB segment contributed about 31% to group pre-tax profit for the first quarter FY14. Key focus areas under this division include the small medium enterprise market, aided by HLB's 288 branch networks as well as its close working relationship with the trade associations, and development of new structured finance products to corporate clients, as well as overseas units.

The earnings outlook for the overseas operations, namely in Chengdu (China), Vietnam and Cambodia are expected to be more rosy in FY14 owing to a gradual recovery in the external sector, as well as due to government initiatives and resilient domestic economies.

Going into 2014, expectation of a recovery in the external sector, sustainability in domestic demand and the impact of a potential hike in the overnight policy rate (OPR) will be the key focus.

Although further moderation in system loans growth is inevitable, from a projected 10% in 2013 to 9.5% in 2014, the sector's earnings prospects still remain favourable given improving cost management and rising non-interest income contribution amid accommodative monetary policy.

BERJAYA SPORTS TOTO BHD

By Hwang DBS Vickers Research

Target price: RM4.60

SECOND-quarter (Q2) of FY14 net profit ex-exceptionals came in at RM99mil (-12% y-o-y), +6% quarter-on-quarter), bringing the first half of FY14 earnings to 51% of our full-year estimate.

As Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd (BToto) has aborted the listing of STM Trust in Singapore (weak demand for business trusts/ Singapore REITS in view of rising bond yields), RM19mil of listing expenses was written off during the quarter.

Second-quarter FY14 revenue/draw continued to decline for the second consecutive quarter by 2.1% y-o-y due to one less draw, slower lotto sales due to smaller jackpot size (Power Toto 6/55 jackpot hit RM25mil as at end-July versus RM5mil as at end-October), and lower lease rental income in the Philippines.

This was further exacerbated by higher prize payout of 60.5% (Q2FY13/Q1FY14: 58%).

BToto is still the market leader with 42% revenue share versus Multi Purpose Holdings Bhd 's 34%. It can continue to leverage on its advantage of higher number of games and outlets.

We expect stronger lotto sales next quarter as Supreme 6/58 jackpot has breached RM20mil this weekend.

While the aborted STM-Trust listing is a negative development, BToto will maintain full control of its Malaysian numbers forecast operation against proposed 86.5% via STM Trust.

We had highlighted earlier that BToto's risks were being overlooked as a mere holding company with much lower earnings as investors will likely prefer to invest directly into STM Trust.

We maintain "buy" and discounted dividend model-based target price of RM4.60.

BToto offers an attractive calendar year 2014 dividend yield of above the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index average.

PUNCAK NIAGA HOLDINGS BHD

By Kenanga Research

Market perform

Target price: RM3.50

PUNCAK Niaga Holdings Bhd (Puncak) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary GOM Resources had been awarded one of the four packages (Package B) of the Pan Malaysian Integrated Offshore Installation Contract from Petronas.

It will be a three-year contract (2014 –2016) with a one-year extension option.

Petronas, on its website, reported that all four packages were worth RM10bil.

Besides GOM Resources, Petronas awarded contracts to other players such as Barakah and SKPETRO's subsidiary, PBJV Group Sdn Bhd and TL Offshore Sdn Bhd.

This much-awaited news has finally materialised and we are positive on Puncak securing a piece of the action.

We understand that the contract is the "continuation of soon-to be offshore and installation construction (OIC) contract" from Petronas by end-2014. Based on its lift capacity of 1,100 tonne, we assume Puncak's portion is 25%-30% of the RM10bil or RM2.5bil –RM3bil.

This would make up about RM700mil-RM1bil worth of orders per annum.

Assuming 10% net margin (which they managed to deliver in FY12 with the same job scope and client), Puncak could deliver a net profit of RM70mil to RM100mil per annum.

Puncak's visible earnings from the oil and gas (O&G) segment offsets the overhanging water consolidation issues (recent attempt by Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) to take over all the water concessionaires have been futile).

Nonetheless, we believe the water consolidation is crucial for Puncak to move forward and further expand its lucrative O&G business.

We believe besides a special dividend, part of the proceeds from its sale of water assets will be channelled towards the O&G division.

We believe that Puncak can only be re-rated if KDEB, Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) and all the water concessionaires reach an agreed "point" of pricing for their valuation of their assets and equities.

Tiger with US$78mil heads 10 biggest sports earners in 2013

Posted:

NEW YORK: Following is a list of the 10 biggest sports earners in 2013.

Total Salary/winnings Endorsements Sport

1. Tiger Woods $78 million $13m $65m Golf

Tiger rediscovered his killer instinct in 2013, surging back to the top of the world rankings after a blistering start to the season when he won five of his first 11 events.

Although he failed to add to his haul of 14 major victories his off-course income perked up, according tothe Forbes annual sporting survey, thanks to sponsorship bonuses with Nike and Rolex tied to success.

He also collected sizeable appearance fees for competing in Abu DhabiChinaMalaysia and Turkey.

2. Roger Federer $72m $7m $65m Tennis

He slipped down the rankings and suffered his leanest season since 2001 but when it comes to endorsements Federer remains one of sport's most bankable assets.

The 17-times grand slam winner's reflexes may have slowed and the picture-perfect backhand has lost its bite but he retains an impressive portfolio of sponsors including deals with Nike and Rolex.

3. Kobe Bryant $62m $28m $34m Basketball

A 15-times All-Star, Bryant's $28 million salary made him the highest-paid player in the NBA in the 2012-13 season and the future Hall of Famer signed a two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers in November.

4. LeBron James $60m $18m $42m Basketball

The man nicknamed 'King James' crowned a memorable 2013 with his second NBA title, putting in a regal 37-point performance in the decisive game of the finals to sink the San Antonio Spurs.

Having scooped a fourth Most Valuable Player award, it comes as no surprise that he is the sport's biggest endorsement attraction, according to Forbes, thanks to deals with Nike, McDonald's and Coca-Cola among others.

5. Drew Brees $51m $40m $11m NFL

With six Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl title to his credit since joining the New Orleans Saints in 2006, the quarterback commands a salary befitting his status as one of the NFL's most successful players.

Gifted with a strong arm and outstanding vision, Brees has endorsement deals with companies including Nike, Procter & Gamble and Verizon Wireless.

6. Aaron Rodgers $49m $43m $6m NFL

The three-times Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2011 signed a five-year, $110 million deal in April that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

A broken collarbone in November, however, meant he suffered a painful end to 2013.

7. Phil Mickelson $49m $5m $44m Golf

Nicknamed 'Phil the Thrill', Mickelson clinched his fifth major title in commanding fashion in 2013, winning the British Open with a scintillating five-under 66 in the final round.

One of the biggest drawcards in the game, capable of driving up television ratings almost single-handedly, he earns more than $40 million annually from endorsement partners.

8. David Beckham $47m $5m $42m Soccer

The world's most marketable footballer called time on a career that combined glitz and glamour with some sparkling silverware in 2013, signing off with a league title at Paris St Germain.

Endorsements make up the bulk of his earnings and his bankability is reflected in the Forbes rich list as he tops shining lights like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

9. Cristiano Ronaldo $44m $23m $21m Soccer

This could be the year that Ronaldo finally steps out of the shadows of Lionel Messi after a stunning hat-trick performance helped send Portugal to the World Cup finals and made him favourite to win the World Player of the Year title.

Four years of playing second fiddle to the Argentine for the coveted Ballon D'Or has not constrained his earning power, however, with nearly half of his $44 million earnings coming from endorsements.

10. Lionel Messi $41m $20m $21m Soccer

Having won the accolade for the best soccer player on the planet since 2009, Messi has already guaranteed his place among the sport's pantheon of greats.

After smashing several goalscoring records in 2012, this year has rung alarm bells as he has suffered significant injury problems for the first time in his career.- Reuters

Following is a list of 10 sporting flops in 2013:

- -

Rory McIlroy (Golf)

The Northern Irishman ended 2012 at the top of the rankings after a second major win, at the U.S. PGA Championship, and he was the leading money-earner on both sides of the Atlantic. But the 24-year-old slumped this year because of new equipment, off-course distractions including his relationship withCaroline Wozniacki and a first lengthy dip in form since turning professional. McIlroy, now number six, finally tasted victory after edging Adam Scott at the Australian Open this month.

- - - -

Formula One (Motor racing)

Sebastian Vettel clinched a fourth successive world title by winning the last nine races of the year. For most fans, however, the season was a turn-off after the European summer break because Vettel was significantly faster than his rivals on tyres that were perfect for his Red Bull. Races in the second half of the season followed an all-too-familiar pattern of Vettel qualifying on the front row, establishing an early lead, pulling well clear and managing his tyres and pitstops to the finish.

- - - -

Bradley Wiggins (Cycling)

Backing up a season that produced Britain's first Tour de France victory and an Olympic gold medal was never going to be an easy task and Wiggins seemed to buckle under the weight of expectation in 2013. Dumped as Team Sky leader for the Tour de France, Wiggins targeted the Giro d'Italia. But crashes and a chest infection forced an early retirement and a knee injury ruled out a defence of his Tour title. He won the Tour of Britain victory in September but his season ended when he abandoned the world championship road race after just one lap.

- - - -

Roger Federer (Tennis)

Being an all-time great makes life hard for anyone who competes after passing their peak. While Federer is considered a veteran at 32, he will be disappointed by a poor campaign this year after ending 2012 as Wimbledon champion and ranked number two in the world. The Swiss won just one title, failed to reach a grand slam final for the first time since 2002, saw his majors' quarter-finals streak halted at 36 by Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon and ended the year ranked sixth.

- - - -

Manchester City (Soccer)

The big-spending 2012 Premier League champions put up a poor defence of their title. They finished 11 points behind city rivals United after their away form deserted them in the second half of the season. An early Champions League exit and FA Cup final loss to relegated Wigan Athletic triggered the departure of manager Roberto Mancini but replacement Manuel Pellegrini's side are also struggling to win away from the Etihad Stadium this season.

- - - -

Jose Mourinho (Soccer)

Mourinho's meteoric rise through the managerial ranks hit the buffers when the self-proclaimed "Special One" endured what he called the "worst season of my career" at Real Madrid. The Portuguese suffered a breakdown in relations with key players in the Madrid dressing room and failed to deliver the 10th European title the club hierarchy demanded. After Barcelona reclaimed the league title from Madrid and city rivals Atletico beat Real to win the Spanish Cup in the Bernabeu, Mourinho left the club by "mutual agreement" and headed back to London to manage Chelsea.

- - - -

Pittsburgh Penguins (Ice hockey)

Pittsburgh dominated the Eastern Conference in a lockout-shortened regular season, winning 36 of 48 games with a power-packed lineup that included All-Stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni MalkinKris Letang and standout goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. A trip to the Stanley Cup appeared a formality heading into the post-season but a dream showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks was denied them when they were swept in four games by the fourth-seeded Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

- - - -

Dwight Howard (Basketball)

Howard was a leading light for the Orlando Magic for eight seasons and when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, many were predicting great things. Nicknamed 'Superman', Howard failed to gel with his team mates, especially Kobe Bryant, and struggled for form and fitness all season as the Lakers limped into the playoffs before being swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Howard finished the season with his lowest scoring average since his second year in the NBA. After just one campaign with the Lakers, Howard opted to join the Houston Rockets.

- - - -

Albert Pujols (Baseball)

The 33-year-old slugger from the Dominican Republic was lured away from the St Louis Cardinals in 2011 by a $254 million 10-year contract offer from the LA Angels, who were hoping his power would help blast them to a World Series. After steady improvement in 2012, he hobbled through to August before ending his season due to a foot injury after batting just .258 with a paltry 17 home runs and 64 RBI. Pujols had never hit less than 32 homers before joining the Angels.

- - - -

McLaren (Motor racing)

Many felt Lewis Hamilton had made a mistake when he walked away from McLaren at the end of 2012 to join Mercedes after McLaren had won five races. But Hamilton's decision proved inspired as his former team struggled to make inroads after a slow start to the season, amassing just 122 points to slip down to fifth in the constructors' standings. Jenson Button's fourth place in the final grand prix was the team's best result and Hamilton's replacement, Sergio Perez, is to be replaced by Kevin Magnussen in 2014 after failing to impress in his one season.

- Reuters

Boeing announces US$10bil buyback, raises dividend

Posted:

SEATTLE: Boeing Co's board raised the company dividend about 50 percent on Monday and approved $10 billion in new share buyback authority that the company said it would use in the next two to three years.

The share repurchase represents about 10 percent of Boeing's outstanding stock, ranking it in the middle of buybacks by large U.S. companies, which are on a stock-buying spree this year.

Boeing shares rose about 2 percent in extended trading after the news. They closed at $134.72 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

The increases in dividends and share repurchases "reflect sustained, strong operational performance by our businesses, increasing cash flow, and our confidence in the future," Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said in a statement.

The new repurchase amount adds to about $800 million remaining from the company's 2007 stock repurchase authorization, and buying will begin in 2014, Boeing said. The quarterly dividend is 73 cents per share, up from 48.5 cents.

Boeing is enjoying a surge in revenue and cash as it ramps up commercial jet production, with a target of delivering a record 635 to 645 aircraft this year. Those gains help offset declining U.S. military spending, which is hampering Boeing's defense businesses.

The company is also preparing to invest billions of dollars in two new models, the narrow-body 737 MAX and the wide-body 777X.

The increased payouts come as the company tries to clinch a labor contract with its unionized machinists that would ensure the 777X is built in the Seattle area. The 31,000 local union members have rejected Boeing's offer, largely because it would switch their defined-benefit pension to a 401(k)-style plan.

"Boeing is looking forward to a period of long-term financial stability made possible primarily by the men and women of District 751," said Tom Wroblewski, president of the International Association of Machinists, District 751, which represents the Seattle-area workers.

"While other production sites have failed to hit their targets, we have delivered record numbers of airplanes at record profit margins this year, helping drive the stock price to record highs," he added. "Given this, I feel it's wrong for the company to try to take away pension benefits that provide our members with their own future financial stability."

For investors, the rise in returns "speaks to the belief that the company has line of sight to improving its operating performance," said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. Inc. The buyback amount matched his forecast, and the dividend was larger, he said.

Robert Stallard, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said the $10 billion repurchase over two or three years was below the $6.5 billion in repurchases he expected in 2014.

"So although this news will probably be welcome, the impact on consensus EPS estimates may not be as positive as expected," Stallard added in a note to clients.

U.S. companies in the Standard and Poor's 500 authorized nearly $123 billion in buybacks in the second quarter, the most since the third quarter of 2011, according to FactSet Research Systems Inc <FDS.N>.

Among Dow Industrial Average companies, Boeing's $10 billion repurchase was in line with General Electric Co <GE.N>, Pfizer Inc <PFE.N>, Intel Corp <INTC.O> and Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N>. But was far smaller than $40 billion for Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> and $17 billion for Home Depot Inc <HD.N>.

But among peer companies authorizing buybacks of $10 billion or more, Home Depot is giving shareholders a much larger boost. It is buying back 15 percent of its outstanding shares. In comparison, GE's $10 billion buyback will purchase just 4 percent of outstanding shares.- Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Papa don&#39;t preach

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Afdlin Shauki serves up a sequel to his hit Papadom that subtly gets the audience thinking – while busting a gut laughing.

AFDLIN Shauki's Papadom proved to be a thought-provoking film for many a parent when it came out four years ago.

Parents watching it must have wondered just how far they would go to protect their children. And any child watching it should have realised just how far their parents would go to protect them simply out of love.

The story centred on widower Saadom (Afdlin) and his overprotective ways where daughter Mia (Liyana Jasmay) was concerned. Feeling stifled, she moved to Kuala Lumpur to pursue a course in filmmaking and, of course, Papa panicked at the thought.

His plans to stay close to Mia landed him in a series of unlikely and comical situations, including falling in love with her lecturer Prof Balqis (Vanidah Imran).

Papadom also made a huge impact at the 22nd Malaysian Film Festival, grabbing the best film award as well as acting honours for Afdlin and Liyana.

In a funny and subtle way, Afdlin Shauki makes us think about our own relationships with our loved ones in Papadom 2.

In a funny and subtle way, Afdlin Shauki makes us think about our own relationships with our loved ones in Papadom 2.

Its awards and box office takings (RM3.37mil) proved the doubters wrong. Now Afdlin, 42, is back with a sequel entitled – what else – Papadom 2.

He and Liyana reprise their roles in the new movie, with the story unfolding against the backdrop of a film set where Mia is working as assistant director.

The RM1.8mil production, which like its predecessor is also produced by Tayangan Unggul, continues the story of the relationship between Saadom and his daughter, who is all grown up now.

Upon hearing that Mia is in love and preparing to marry the man of her dreams, Saadom decides to go undercover at Mia's workplace to find out the truth about the boy, only to learn that Mia's love is not what he expects.

Once again, Saadom finds himself challenged, and this makes for some truly hilarious and chaotic scenes.

Apart from familiar faces such as Afdlin, Liyana, Vanida Imran, Pete Teo, Scha Alyahya, Noorkhiriah, Adham Malekh and Chelsia Ng reprising their roles, Papadom 2 also adds several new and colourful characters to its cast played by Riezman Khuzaimie, Khir Rahman, Hans Isaac, Dira Abu Zahar and Adlin Aman Ramlie.

Mia (Liyana Jasmay) is all grown up now and feeling torn between her over-protective father and living her own life.

If the gala screening last week was anything to go by, the sequel promises to have audiences howling with laughter – there are even delightful spoofs of some recent movies – and maybe shedding a few tears, too. A big box office haul seems like a reasonable expectation.

Behind the comedy and heart-rending moments is a subtle message that Afdlin wants to get across. Instead of being preachy, however, he tries to get us thinkiing about our own relationships with our loved ones.

For Afdlin himself, the film still gets him tear-eyed even after multiple viewings.

"While I was directing, all I wanted to do was to see the end product. But when I saw it on screen with ... (all) the elements such as the music, and emotions being displayed, it made me feel really grateful for and thankful to my family for being my inspiration for this movie," said Afdlin, a father of three daughters aged between three and 14.

He felt that the Papadom movies stand out in Malaysian cinema because they deal with the relationship between children and their parents, and vice versa. "If you look around, (there is) no local film addressing family matters and I believe that's the unique thing about this movie," he said after the premiere.

Liyana, 25, was beyond excited when she learned of the sequel, because her character would not only be a working adult, but would also have a boyfriend!

Afdlin recalled Liyana's reaction to the prospect of Mia's romantic liaison in the movie.

"She gave me a long list of actors who she would like to play her boyfriend. You know, all the young and good-looking actors," said Afdlin.

"And then I gave her a really big surprise (in terms of the actor playing her boyfriend)," he added, before bursting into laughter.

Liyana said she was surprised by the name but much to her delight, she quickly discovered that the two of them had great chemistry on screen.

"I learned a lot from him as he is an experienced actor and, trust me, it was really fun," said the talented Liyana, who is now two months pregnant with her first child.

Singer-songwriter Pete Teo, 41, was more than happy to reprise his role as Uncle Alan (Saadom's close friend).

"Working with Afdlin was always fun. And when he told me that I would have more scenes in Papadom 2 I was really excited. But honestly, I was feeling the pressure this time around due to the filming schedule and I think it took me about 20 days to shoot my scenes.

"Yeah, it was really funny when I was told that my character would have a crush on a young girl," said Teo, recently back from working on some projects in London – which, unfortunately, caused him to miss the premiere.

"I will definitely watch it in the cinema when it opens ... I really hope people will like it because we had so much fun making it," he said.

* Papadom 2 is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

Movies coming soon

Posted:

12 Years A Slave – An adaptation of the 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, it tells the story of how he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film features a stellar cast, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Brad Pitt, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller (pic) directs and acts in this tale about a most ordinary man named Walter Mitty. He spends his life daydreaming about the things he might do but mostly, he has achieved ... pretty much nothing. Then an important picture goes missing, and Walter decides to do something about it. Also starring Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Sean Penn.

Do the Monster Mash

Posted:

THERE have been two very exciting trailers out this month for two of next year's most anticipated films.

The newest one is Godzilla, which is directed by Gareth Edwards (who did the low-budget, critically-acclaimed Monsters in 2010). Godzilla has been in the making for some time now, and this is the first teaser trailer we are seeing.

A trailer that ends with the revelation of a gargantuan creature, letting out a fearsome roar as its shape and size becomes clearer as the dust around it settles. No doubt about it, this is a jaw-dropping moment all right.

As shown in the poster revealed in this year's San Diego Comic-Con, we see soldiers jumping out of the plane while David Strathairn's character is giving his men a "last hurrah" speech. We get behind the goggles of one of these men falling from the sky, and at one point we can make out parts of Godzilla.

We see the destruction this radiation-spawned monster creates, alternating with the puny humans' reaction. Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen deliver shocked looks while Aaron Johnson (with army haircut) looks a little lost. Ken Watanabe is also among the cast, and we figure he must be the guy who discovers the monster's origins as he is wearing an anti-radiation suit.

The teaser already looks better than the Godzilla movie directed by Roland Emmerich back in 1998. Let's hope this is true of the finished film.

Earlier this month, we also got to see the newest trailer to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which runs for 2mins and 40secs. It offers plenty of action (there are two Matrix slow-mo moves) with Spidey fighting more than one enemy.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) plays Harry Osborn – who seems to have a hand in the origin of Electro (Jamie Foxx). There is also the Rhino (Paul Giamatti). In the synopsis, it says that Oscorp – owned by Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin in the comics and Sam Raimi movies – is sending a slew of supervillains to fight Spidey.

Poor Peter Parker, he can never catch a break. But it seems Peter (Andrew Garfield) has made up with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Even though the trailer has its lighter moments – thanks to the romantic pair – the film looks like it will have plenty of explosive action and many tragic moments. It's a bit scary too, thanks to the trailer voice-over where Electro declares his intention to get rid of Spider-Man.

By the way, the suit Spidey wears has the same tint of blue as in the comics. Nice!

Both films are set to open in May.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Art inspired by Sabah’s pygmy elephants

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An artist finds inspiration in the plight of Sabah's pygmy elephants.

WHEN the artist Christine Nalina Das was in Sabah, she met Little Joe, the sole survivor from a herd of 14 Borneo pygmy elephants who died of poisoning in the wild.

"When he first came out of the enclosure, he wrapped his little trunk around my hand as if to say 'hello'. I planted a kiss on his forehead and then he played with my hair!" she recalls.

"This personal encounter was just too surreal and precious. It's hard to describe in words. I got it all on video and I watch it pretty often, I tear every time I watch it. He warms my heart. Little does he know how much he has made an impact on my life."

Little Joe lives at the Lok Kawi wildlife park outside Kota Kinabalu with help from the conservation team at the Borneo Conservation Trust. The artist's encounter with the young elephant moved her to do something to help – through her paintings.

Das, 47, works with acrylic on canvas, using free-flowing lines and textures to express her interpretations of trees, birds, and, of course, elephants.

She was born and educated in Penang island, where she trained in graphic design. As a child, her artistic flair became evident when she used to doodle under the dining table while lying on the floor, learning the hard way that doodling on walls had its consequences.

Years on, this passion transformed into a livelihood, as she tried her hand at book illustrations, displays, murals, graphic design and animation, before becoming a full-time visual artist in 2007.

"When I attended the official launch of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant Sanctuary earlier this year, I heard so many hard-hitting stories about our wildlife. I realised that deforestation had cut off the animals from their migratory routes as well as food and water sources! It was so sad," she reflects.

"There are only 1,500 Borneo Pygmy elephants left. They are only found here and no where else in the world! Many are losing their forest homes."

As Das was then working on her second solo exhibition, she was inspired to highlight their plight. Her show, entitled Que Sera Sera, features 29 nature-themed paintings. Four paintings are sub-themed "Pickme Elefund" (pygmy elephant) and 30% of the proceeds from that will be donated to the Borneo Conservation Trust towards building a Borneo Pygmy Elephant Sanctuary in Kinabatangan, Sabah. Part of the proceeds from other works will also be donated to the fruit tree planting programme for the wildlife corridor there.

"I was happy and thankful to see Little Joe healthy and happy. Yet at the same time it's sad that he will never have his family with him to see him grow up," she says.

Christine Das with Lil' Joe, the only surviving Borneo pygmy elephant from the tragedy this year which killed the entire herd of 14 elephants, including its mother.

Das with Little Joe, the surviving Borneo pygmy elephant from a herd of 14 elephants who died mysteriously in Sabah.

"I was also struck by the words of the Sabah Minister of Tourism, Datuk Masidi Manjun (during the sanctuary's launching ceremony), about how funds and help are coming from people outside the country while Malaysians are slow to help. So that's why I decided to do my part."

On a happier note, when Das stayed at the Mynes Resort (a wildlife corridor partner) at Sukau along the Kinabatangan river, the majesty of the rainforest and wildlife inspired her art to blossom.

"I felt, smelt, saw and touched nature in a way that I have never before. I experienced nature with new and improved senses," she recalls.

"It was both very spiritual and enriching. Many beautiful textures, lines, shapes and colours caught my attention. There was so much beauty and wisdom there, I could only fall more deeply in love with nature."

After returning from Sabah, she renewed her work on her nature-themed collection with new found purpose and zeal.

"It further affirmed to me that nature was my muse in art."

It took her almost one year to complete the works for her latest show.

"I allowed myself a sense of liberation when creating these paintings, allowing my brush to flow freely, hence the show's title Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be," shares Das.

As an artist, she feels that she has grown and gained much more confidence compared to her first solo exhibition last year.

"I was so anxious then. Now, I have more courage to explore styles. I even dared to try painted mosaics! I feel my lines are more refined and confident. It may be very tedious fine-line work, but I have enjoyed every bit of it.

"My colours are not as hot as last year .. it's a little bit more toned down but they are still vibrant and joyful. Also, I feel that I am not as rigid as I used to be before. I believe my femininity can be seen through my new work. I like that!"

Que Sera Sera is on display at Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTic), 109, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur till Dec 29. Opening hours: 8.30am-6pm daily. The Borneo Conservation Trust will have a booth set up in the exhibition hall to create awareness on the Borneo Wildlife Sanctuary. Christine Das currently works from her home studio in Subang Jaya, Selangor and can be reached at chrisdas@gmail.com or 012-380 8191.

Generation vanity on show at 18@8 exhibit

Posted:

Artists explore social media and the concept of narcissism in Wei-Ling Contemporary's 18@8 exhibit.

WHEN an artist is imposed with restrictions, he feels trapped. It forces him to think out of the box and experiment with elements he wouldn't normally work on. The result: innovative, rather interesting works.

This is part of Wei-Ling Contemporary's objective for its annual 18@8 exhibition. It's a much anticipated event as the gallery hands out themes for selected artists to work on. The series is now into its ninth instalment after its debut in 2005.

The selection of artists changes every year and encompasses both promising and emerging artists who have made a significant development in their careers or are working towards a major project in the coming year.

"Our mission to promote and develop serious artists who are dedicated to their artistic journeys, to distinguish between decorative or commercial art and real art by artists who have something to say in their works, and are making art for the right reason, continues," says director Wei-Ling, in her gallery message.

This year's line-up includes Ivan Lam, Anurendra Jegadeva, Choy Chun Wei, Yau Bee Ling, Wong Chee Meng, Hamid Hadi, Azliza Ayob, Ilham Fadlym, Zulkilfi Yusoff, Sean Lean, Cheng Yen Pheng and Kim Ng.

For this year's 18@8 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall edition, artists were given the task of figuring out how social media has changed people and the way they view themselves, with narcissism playing a key role.

It all began with the Greek myth of Narcissus who was so enamoured by his own reflection in the water, eventually bringing upon his death, as a result of him being completely unable to take his eyes off of himself.

Each artist was asked to explore the idea of self-love (be it narcissism: egotism, vanity, pride, selfishness, grandiosity, erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, self-adornment, obsession with perfection, acceptance from one's peers, etc) and come up with one major work which would reflect this theme.

Sean Lean's artwork

Sean Lean's artwork Dear God(s) deals with the cultural duality in his life – his mum prays to Taoist idols while he worships comic book superheroes.

In addition, to incorporate a fun element to the exhibit, the gallery collaborated with Italian leather brand, Furla, to create 12 art bags from their iconic Candy Bag collection. Artists were at liberty to do what they wanted, with no boundaries. The bags would then be auctioned.

They put on their artistic caps and set to work.

For Lam, social media is not something he indulges in. Yes, he is e-mail-friendly but doesn't think it's necessary to have Facebook, Twitter and Instragram accounts although countless friends have tried to set it up for him.

"When I was given the theme, I just wanted to have fun and create something I don't usually do. My interpretation is Solipsism, which deals with the self and how your measure the world against yourself. For me, it's the ultimate narcissism as everything exists because of you. But, it's also a fallacy," he says.

Solipsism is the philosophical view that only one's own mind is sure to exist. Lam's three-panel painting is incredibly precise and neat. The colours, using the colours of the new iPhone 5s, blend into the background, with vertical, triangular and circular design on the panels. It traces theletters, "I M U".

Wong Chee Meng intends to show that the past and present are still the same in

What's your type? Wong Chee Meng intends to show that the past and present are still the same in Fact And Fiction.

"Every piece I do is connected in some way to future pieces because it has continuity. However, I erase what people call 'signature' works because I want to push my ideas, challenge myself and make beautiful mistakes. For this, I had to fall back on basic design principles," he explains.

Lam looks inwards, as his painting speaks of the duality within the artist.

"I am everyone and everyone is me," he states. "In the first frame, the statements reflect the whole population. I take on many hats and ask who I am to the mirror. The answer is 'I am you'."

Lam argues that no matter how we try to set ourselves apart from others, we are essentially the same inside. The second panel reflects an inverted triangle and points to how we actually leave a momentary impact, while the third panel shows that we come back to the same core after making a circular loop.

"It's my way of a time capsule. My work is direct and pretty easy to interpret, so it's up to the viewers to take what they want. There are many layers to it but I normally go along with people's stories! Artists are expected to know everything but really, we don't," says Lam, who was the first and only artist from Malaysia to present a solo exhibit at Art Basel Hong Kong this year. His works have featured in both Sotheby's and Christie's auctions where his monumental works have fetched a hefty price.

Creating the Furla bag, posed a bigger challenge and he followed the premise that a bag must be a bag.

He elaborates, "I had only one shot to 'do it up'. I can't spoil it and ask for another bag! I didn't want the form to take over the function of the bag, so I deliberately left the bag as it was and sourced for art materials to put in as contents. People should be able to carry the bag and craft something using the material inside. Whatever it is, do."

In contrast, Choy's painting I Shop Therefore I Am (Urban Fragment Reflected) spells chaos. He has utilised scaffolding and construction to build up the intricacies of a straight line. His construction has no fa├žade and is haphazardly structured.

"The theme has been echoing in my mind that man-made objects are penetrating the world deeper and making things chaotic. Our inventions envelop ourselves that we sometimes cannot tell what is fact and fiction. We are starting to live in a bubble.

"We don't seem to know where things originate from. Narcissism is the root for our behaviour. We're so absorbed in these man-made stuff. I can absorb, digest and be part of the system but I'm not controlled by it. We are so distracted (shown in the disorder) that views have become fuzzy," he says.

On a macro level, Choy admits it is a self-reflective piece though he values form, clarity and mission.

A recipient of numerous key art awards, Choy has also been granted a residency with the prestigious Freeman Foundation in Vermont, United States. For his bag, he chose to draw people with mobile devices, while adding sketches from his previous works. It has a strong connection to shopping. The bag is the world and people are around it.

Wong's piece Fact And Fiction contends that one needs to scrape the gloss to find the truth. The artist recalls a quote by Francis Bacon to illustrate the point that his artwork makes, "Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible."

He portrays a figure frightened with the advent of social media, but yet discovers that everything begins with a keyboard. He juxtaposes it with icons and pixels.

"For me, past and present are all the same. We still use the keyboard to type, but in a different timeframe. Since I have double vision, I have to incorporate many layers into my work otherwise, it seems incomplete," says Wong.

Cheng Yen Pheng toys around with man-made and natural elements in her creation. She uses egg shells and lemon peels on the bag.

Cheng Yen Pheng's Untitled toys around with man-made and natural elements in her creation. She uses egg shells and lemon peels on the bag.

His Furla bag is full of arrows signifying that Cupid has shot an arrow into social media and in time, more will embrace it. Despite the discernable lies and unknown truths, Wong says the one thing we are all susceptible to is love.

Another interesting piece is Sean Lean's Dear God(s). His artwork deals with cultural duality – his mother prays to ancient Taoist idols while he worships superheroes in comic books.

As for the bags, the various artists came up with a variety of designs.

One that stood out was Zulkifli Yusoff's Burung And Kura-Kura. Both his painting and bag shared the same motif. Using resin and fibreglass, his design depicted the shell of a tortoise, with wheels and birds drawn all over.

Zulkifli Yusoff's creation,

Zulkifli Yusoff's The Birds And The Tortoise, using resin and fibreglass, fetched a handsome RM17,000 at the charity auction.

Azliza Ayob, fascinated by the seductive and revealing look of the transparent candy bag, used lace, acrylic and synthetic stones to adorn her bag. It will appeal to ladies as it evokes a sense of femininity and enticement.

Straying from deeper issues that affect the world, Anurendra's Furla bag takes a playful respite and explores the cult of personality through some popular icons including Elvis Presley, Barack Obama, Che Guevara and P. Ramlee.

Anurendra Jegadeva's

Anurendra Jegadeva's Pop-pop Trinity (Plus One) plays around with popular icons such as Barack Obama, Elvis Presley, Che Guevara and P. Ramlee.

The auction, held last week, raised RM70,600 with proceeds going to SPCA. The highest bid went to the candy bag created by Zulkifli Yusoff (RM17,000), followed by Lam (RM13,000) and Anurendra (RM13,000).

The 18@8 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall exhibition is on at Wei-Ling Contemporary (G212&213A Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur) till Jan 16. Open daily from 10am-9pm. Admission is free. Call 03-2260 1106 or 03-2282 8323 for more info. Browse: www.weiling-gallery.com

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my
 

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