Selasa, 17 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Show of mass loyalty for Kim


SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a mass gathering of military and party officials that was broadcast live on state television at a time of growing concern over the stability of his hardline regime.

The ceremony in central Pyongyang, marking the second death anniversary of Jong-un's father and former leader Kim Jong-il, included a number of speeches that stressed unquestioning loyalty to the young supremo and included a stark warning to rival South Korea.

It followed the shock execution last week of Jong-un's uncle and one-time political mentor, Jang Song-thaek.

The purge raised questions about factional infighting at the top of the North Korean hierarchy and prompted both Seoul and Washington to warn of possible provocative acts by the nuclear-armed regime.

State television showed the massed ranks of tens of thousands of military and party officials sitting stony-faced in pin-drop silence for several minutes, before rising to greet Jong-un with thunderous applause as he arrived to take his place on the leadership podium.

"We should be warriors to safeguard the party centre with our lives ... with the conviction that we know no one but the great comrade Jong-un," North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, said in an opening address.

He added that the country had made "great strides" in the two years since Jong-un took over the reins of power after his father's death.

Under Jong-un's leadership, North Korea has successfully placed a satellite in orbit and in February this year conducted its third – and most powerful – nuclear test.

"By holding the respected comrade Jong-un in high esteem ... our country will prosper as the country of eternal sun," Yong-nam said.

Yesterday's mass meeting also heard a keynote address by top military leader Choe Ryong-hae – who some analysts believe had a hand in the ouster and execution of Jang.

"Our revolutionary forces know ... no one but comrade Jong-un," said Choe, a close Jong-un confidant who holds the military rank of vice marshal and is director of the Korean People's Army's General Political Department

The military will support "our supreme commander, under any storms and hardships", said Choe, who also fired off a warning at rival South Korea.

"If the enemies drop a single drop of fire on our motherland, our soldiers will immediately storm out to wipe out all the invaders and achieve unification," he said.

At a meeting of top defence and national security officials on Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye had warned that the recent leadership shake-up in the North could presage some aggressive behaviour from Pyongyang.

"We can't rule out the possibility of contingencies such as reckless provocations," Park said, urging the military to step up vigilance along the heavily fortified border.

Yesterday's meeting came the day after a massive military rally in Pyongyang. — AFP

53 rioters to be deported


Singapore said it will deport 53 South Asian workers and pursue criminal charges against 28 others for their involvement in the city-state's first riot in more than four decades.

"We have taken strong and decisive action to charge, and to repatriate those who took part in the riot to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate actions by anyone which threaten law and order in Singapore," Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said at a news conference.

The riot on Dec 8 by hundreds of South Asian workers has forced the tightly controlled city-state to examine how it deals with the presence of nearly a million low-paid foreign workers, who drive its economic growth.

The rampage, which erupted after an Indian man was killed by a bus in a district known as Little India, saw 39 people injured, including police officers, and 25 vehicles destroyed.

Fifty-two of the 53 men being deported are Indian nationals, while one is a Bangladeshi, said police commissioner Ng Joo Hee.

They were hauled up yesterday morning and will be deported after travel and administrative arrangements are settled, he said.

The 28 men facing rioting charges remain in police custody pending further investigations and can expect seven years in jail plus caning if found guilty.

Seven Indian nationals who had previously been charged were released after their charges were withdrawn.

The Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement that investigations showed the 28 facing charges were involved in "acts of violence, damage to property, defying police orders, or inciting others to do so". — AFP

‘Subway samurai’ faces flogging


A subway commuter is facing the prospect of five years in jail plus flogging for wielding a sword on board a train while dressed in samurai attire.

Metro operator SMRT said police were called in on Monday after a man wielding a samurai sword jumped a fare gate at a suburban station and boarded a train headed towards the city.

A police spokesman said he was detained for possession of a weapon, an offence which is punishable by up to five years in jail and a mandatory minimum of six strokes of a cane.

She did not respond to queries about his nationality or age.

Photographs posted on social media by other passengers on the train showed the man wielding the sword while dressed in a white T-shirt and Japanese hakama pants usually worn by martial arts practitioners.

He appeared to sport frizzy, shoulder-length hair.

"From the waist up he looked like a rocker, but from the waist down, he looked like a samurai," witness Kim Bomhae told The Straits Times.

The images posted on Facebook and various blogs showed police officers and passengers keeping a wide berth as the man brandished the unsheathed sword on board the train.

He was apprehended by police who tailed him after he alighted at City Hall station at the heart of Singapore's civic district.

The bizarre incident immediately drew online derision.

"Seems like a good way to ensure you get your personal space on the train," wrote Ahmad Zhaki Abdullah on The Straits Times' Facebook page.

Congestion on the 150km-long metro network has fed resentment among Singaporeans in recent years. — AFP


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.N. told up to 500 killed in South Sudan clashes -diplomats


JUBA/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations received reports from local sources in South Sudan on Tuesday that between 400 and 500 people had been killed and up to 800 wounded in the latest violence, and the government said it had arrested 10 politicians in connection with a "foiled coup".

"Two hospitals have recorded between 400 and 500 dead and (up to) 800 wounded," a diplomat in New York said on condition of anonymity, citing an estimate United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous gave during a closed-door briefing for the 15-member body.

Another diplomat confirmed Ladsous' remarks, adding that the United Nations was not in a position to verify the figures.

Earlier on Tuesday, a South Sudanese health ministry official told Reuters that at least 26 people were dead after fighting in Juba between rival groups of soldiers from Sunday night into Monday morning. Sporadic gunfire and blasts continued up to Tuesday evening.

The Juba government said it had arrested 10 major political figures and was hunting for its former vice president, accusing him of leading a failed coup in the oil-producing country's capital, where gunfire rang out for a second day.

The prominence of the names, including former finance minister Kosti Manibe among those who had been detained, underlined the size of the rift in Africa's newest state, less than 2-1/2 years after it seceded from Sudan.

The United States urged its citizens to leave the country immediately, and said it was suspending normal operations at its embassy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippine city of Tacloban, urged a "peaceful and democratic" solution.

"The United States believes very strongly that all parties should refrain from any action that could further escalate the tensions," Kerry told reporters. "Political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means, those that have been hard fought for."

The White House said President Barack Obama was getting briefings on the situation.

President Salva Kiir, dressed in military fatigues, said on television on Monday that forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, whom he sacked in July, had attacked an army base in a bid to seize power.

South Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Africa despite its oil reserves, and it is plagued by ethnic fighting.

The rift at the heart of its political elite will dismay oil companies that had been counting on a period of relative stability after South Sudan's independence so they could step up exploration. France's Total and some largely Asian groups, among them China's CNPC, have interests there.

It will also be closely watched by South Sudan's neighbours, which include some of the continent's most promising economies, including Ethiopia and Kenya.

After its meeting on the crisis in New York, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement saying it "urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and refrain from violence and other actions that could exacerbate tensions."

French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud, president of the council this month, told reporters the council would meet again in coming days on the upsurge in violence in South Sudan.


Kiir and Machar are from different ethnic groups that have clashed in the past. Machar leads a dissident faction inside the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and was planning to run for the presidency.

Fighting erupted outside his compound in Juba on Tuesday, but his whereabouts were unknown, foreign affairs spokesman Mawien Makol Arik told Reuters. Machar has so far not released a statement.

The government on Tuesday accused him of being the "coup leader" and listed four other wanted men, including Pagan Amum, the SPLM's former Secretary General and the country's main negotiator in a prolonged oil dispute with Sudan.

"Those who are still at large will be apprehended," Information Minister Michael Makuei said in a statement on a government website. He said he believed they had fled to an area north of the capital.

The 10 officials had been arrested "in connection with the foiled coup attempt," the statement said.

Around 16,000 people had taken refuge in U.N. compounds in Juba by noon on Tuesday and the numbers were rising, the United Nations said.

Streets were empty at the start of a dawn-to-dusk curfew, ordered by the president. Mobile phone signals were down for a second day.

"Food and water are an issue for the population as they don't have fridges or city power so they buy food almost daily," said one aid worker in Juba, who asked not to be identified. "They haven't stocked up and are getting worried."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to Kiir on Tuesday and called for his government to provide an "offer of dialogue to its opponents and to resolve their respective differences peacefully".

The president, who comes from South Sudan's dominant Dinka ethnic group, sacked Machar, a Nuer, after mounting public frustration at the government's failure to deliver tangible improvements in public services and other basic demands.

The government played down suggestions that the conflict had an ethnic element, and said Kiir had met Nuer leaders to dispel the "misleading information" that they were being targeted.

Tensions have been building in the army, broadly along ethnic lines, independently of the Kiir-Machar rivalry, said analysts.

"The personalities involved are clearly important, but we think this is more fundamentally about the SPLA rather than necessarily being completely controlled by the SPLM political figures," said Cedric Barnes, Crisis Group project director for the Horn of Africa, based in Nairobi.

South Sudan is the size of France but has barely any paved roads. The government's critics complain it suffers the same ills as old Sudan - corruption, poor public services and repression by the state of opponents and the media.

(Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic, Edmund Blair and George Obulutsa in Nairobi, Michelle Nichols in New York, Mark Felsenthal in Washington, and Leslie Wroughton in the Philippines; Writing by Drazen Jorgic and Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Vicki Allen)

China confirms near miss with U.S. ship in South China Sea


BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Wednesday confirmed an incident between a Chinese naval vessel and a U.S. warship in the South China Sea, after Washington said a U.S. guided missile cruiser had avoided a collision with a Chinese warship manoeuvring nearby.

Experts have said the near-miss between the USS Cowpens and a Chinese warship operating near China's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was the most significant U.S.-China maritime incident in the disputed South China Sea since 2009.

China's Defence Ministry said the Chinese naval vessel was conducting "normal patrols" when the two vessels "met".

"During the encounter, the Chinese naval vessel properly handled it in accordance with strict protocol," the ministry said in a statement on its website (

"The two defence departments were kept informed of the relevant situation through normal working channels and carried out effective communication."

Washington said last week its ship was forced to take evasive action on December 5 to avoid a collision.

The incident came at a time of heightened tensions in the region following Beijing's declaration of an air defence identification zone further north in the East China Sea, which prompted protests from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.

China's Defence Ministry said, however, there were "good opportunities" for developing Sino-U.S. military ties.

"Both sides are willing to strengthen communication, maintain close coordination and make efforts to maintain regional peace and stability," the ministry said.

The Liaoning aircraft carrier, which has yet to be fully armed and is being used as a training vessel, was flanked by escort ships including two destroyers and two frigates during its first deployment into the South China Sea.

Friction over the South China Sea has surged as China uses its growing naval might to assert a vast claim over the oil-and-gas rich area, raising fears of a clash between it and other countries in the area, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

The United States had raised the incident at a "high level" with China, according to a State Department official quoted by the U.S. military's Stars and Stripes newspaper.

Beijing routinely objects to U.S. military surveillance operations within its exclusive economic zone, while Washington insists the United States and other nations have the right to conduct routine operations in international waters.

China deployed the Liaoning to the South China Sea just days after announcing its air defence zone, which covers air space around a group of tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing as well.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee and Hui Li; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Dean Yates)

Thai protesters say they will rally to hound PM from office


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand said they will step up their protests in an attempt to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office and push through electoral reforms before a general election is held.

The number of protesters camped on the street in the capital has dwindled to around 2,000 over the past week but their leader, former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban, called for marches along main roads in central Bangkok on Thursday and Friday, followed by a big rally on Sunday.

"We will chase Yingluck out this Sunday after she made it clear she will not step down as caretaker prime minister," he said late on Tuesday.

Suthep massed 160,000 protesters around Yingluck's office on December 9, when she called a snap election for February 2 to try to defuse the crisis. Yingluck remains caretaker prime minister.

He has sought the backing of the influential military but has so far been rebuffed. Thailand's military - a frequent actor in Thai politics - ousted Yingluck's brother, the self-exiled Thaksin Shinawatra, when he was premier in 2006.

"We will walk until the number of people who come out to join us outnumber those who elected Yingluck. We will march until the military and civil servants finally join us," Suthep told reporters.

Thailand's eight-year political conflict centres on Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon popular among the rural poor because of cheap healthcare and other policies brought in while he was in power.

Yingluck won a landslide victory in 2011 and her Puea Thai Party is well placed to win again because of Thaksin's bedrock support in the populous, rural north and northeast.

Ranged against him are a royalist establishment that feels threatened by Thaksin's rise and - in the past, at least - the army. Some academics see him as a corrupt rights abuser, while the middle class resent what they see as their taxes being spent on wasteful populist policies that amount to vote-buying.

Thaksin chose to live in exile after fleeing in 2008 just before being sentenced to jail for abuse of power in a trial that he says was politically motivated.


Even if the election takes place on February 2, its legitimacy could be undermined if the main opposition Democrat Party decides not to take part.

At a two-day conference that ended on Tuesday, it reappointed former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva as its leader. However, its members could not agree whether to run in the election or back the street protesters.

Democrat lawmakers resigned from parliament this month to march with Suthep, who was a deputy prime minister in Abhisit's government until 2011.

Some agree with his call for reforms to be implemented before another election is held, but others believe their party, Thailand's oldest, should respect the democratic process and run for office. A decision is expected on Saturday.

Suthep's programme remains vague and it is unclear how long it would take his proposed "people's council" to implement any reforms.

He wants to wipe out vote-buying and electoral fraud and has also promised "forceful laws to eradicate corruption", decentralisation, the end of "superficial populist policies that enable corruption", and the reform of "certain state agencies such as the police force".

Suthep's protest gained impetus in early November after Yingluck's government tried to push through a political amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return home a free man.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Editing by Paul Tait)


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Brian Griffin lives again!


Everyone's favourite alcoholic cartoon dog is back from the dead.

Family Guy fans, relax and rejoice – Brian Griffin the dog is back from the dead.

The pooch is back where he belongs, drinking and womanising among his friends and family in Quahog. The Fox animated comedy revived Brian last weekend, and in turn, said goodbye to the new family hound, Vinny (Tony Sirico).

To bring back one of the show's most popular characters, baby Stewie and Vinny stole a time machine return pad from a different version of the diabolical infant that they encountered by happenstance in a toy store. Time-traveling Stewie was on hand to buy the hot Christmas toy of the season, but was distracted by Vinny's suggestion he try modelling.

Stewie Griffin bids farewell to Vinny the replacement dog in Family Guy.

Real-time Stewie was able to nab the device and save his friend. It all makes (slightly) more sense in context.

Last month, Brian was hit by a car while playing street hockey with Stewie, ultimately dying. In altering the timeline last weekend, Stewie tackled his best friend out of harm's way, preventing the tragedy and saving the Griffin family Christmas. So going forward, Brian never died, and the Griffins never adopted Vinny.

The twist was predicted – and possibly even expected – given the nature of the show and Brian's popularity, but that did not curb fans from panicking in the interim. — Reuters

Precious Celina Jade


From Hong Kong to Hollywood, Celina Jade hits the mark.

AN e-mail popped up in Celina Jade's inbox after she landed the role of Shado in Arrow warning her about bears. The actress, who was in Kuala Lumpur last month to promote the hit TV series, shares the highlight of the e-mail. "Don't run. Because if you run, the bear will follow you. But, I don't know if I cannot not run if I see a bear," she says with a laugh.

On Arrow, her character is trapped on an island alongside the series' protagonist, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Most of the external shots of the island are actually filmed on the top of a mountain at a national park in Vancouver, Canada. You know, where bears roam free.

"It's beautiful, but am I able to tell a bear from a dog? I am not sure," the 28-year-old Hong Kong-born actress deadpans.

In the series, Shado is a recurring character who appears in flashbacks to the time Oliver was stranded on the tropical island of Lian Yu after his father's yacht sank in a storm.

She was introduced in the second half of the first season as a lawyer who'd come to the island in search of her own father. At the end of the first season, we discover that Shado is no damsel in distress and – shocker! – the person who taught the hooded vigilante the art of archery. Now, in the second season, romance starts to bloom between Shado and Oliver even as more strangers arrive on the island with murderous intent.

"It's funny because I am kissing the lead actor within the three episodes (I get there), and my Asian fans are like, 'How can you give in to him so early? You have to make him work for it a little bit', " Jade says.

It's obvious that unlike her ever-serious character, Jade is witty and has a pleasant disposition, even when this interview takes place in the same hour she checks into the hotel after arrival from Hong Kong. The actress-model-singer even skips lunch to keep the appointed time.

The Pan-Asian actress is of mixed parentage – an American dad, who is also a kung fu star (Roy Horan shared scenes with the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan) and a Hong Kong mum. Thanks to her dad, she and her sister have been practising martial arts since they were young. "Ours is the only family where getting beat up is OK."

Even now, whenever she is back in Hong Kong, her 63-year-old father still trains and teaches her how to take punches and fall the correct way for the camera so that the action scene looks cinematically good and Jade won't get hurt in the process.

She also credits her start in kung fu films (2008's Legendary Assassins being her most popular feature) as a good training ground for martial arts. It also taught her to do her own fight stunts.

According to Jade, in an American production, the crew is more careful with the kind of stunts the cast does. "I remember the second episode (of Arrow) I was in, Stephen said to me, 'Oh be careful when you are on the apple box.' And I am like 'Really?'

"I think they were surprised with how much I was willing to do. I get bruised a lot, I get punched in the face in the second episode. I was like, 'It's fine'. I go home, roll an egg on it and I am OK. It's part of my job, to fall and take a punch."

Besides constantly improving her skills in martial arts, Jade made sure she does her character Shado proud – so she picked up archery, even setting up a shooting range at her home in Hong Kong.

She then says with a twinkle in her eye: "You know, now that I have a bow and arrow, sometimes I wonder if someone burgles my house will I use it and shoot him in the leg? I will be really tempted, right?"

Catch Celina Jade in Arrow every Monday at 9pm on WarnerTV (HyppTV Ch 613).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Britain approves reforms to scandal-hit banking sector


LONDON: Britain's banking reform bill cleared its final legislative hurdle late on Monday, paving the way for a raft of new regulations including the "ring fencing" of banks' retail and investment divisions.

A vote in the House of Lords, Britain's upper chamber, rubber-stamped the government's plans for reforming the embattled sector, ending a challenge from the opposition Labour party, which wanted a licensing system on banking standards to be included.

"I am delighted that the Banking Reform Bill has been passed," said Sajid Javid, Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

"This is a major milestone and marks the end of a three year process, led by the government, to make the UK banking system stronger and safer so that it can support the economy, help businesses and serve consumers."

According to Javid, the bill will ensure that taxpayers are no longer on the hook for future bank failures and will also "help to deliver much need competition" in the sector.

The bill implements many of the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking, set up in 2010 to consider structural reform of the sector following the 2007 crisis.

It will also apply recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which was set up to review standards following last year's Libor revelations.

The scandal erupted when Barclays was fined £290mil (US$472mil) by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of key interbank interest rates between 2005 and 2009.

The legislation also includes measures allowing bankers to be charged with reckless misconduct if their business fails and will force them to build an "electrified" ring fence between their high-street and investment banking operations.

The bill is now ready to receive Royal Assent and become law – AFP. 

Asian shares climb ahead of Fed decision


HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Wednesday, with attention focused on Washington as investors await the end of a Federal Reserve policy meeting to find out its plans for its huge stimulus programme.

Japanese equities were the standout performers after official data showed a surge in exports thanks to a weaker yen.

Tokyo climbed 1.54% by the break, Sydney added 0.1% and Seoul strengthened 0.26% while Shanghai gained 0.1% and Hong Kong was 0.43% higher.

Regional traders were given a soft lead from Wall Street, where the three main indexes ended in the red following a tepid set of economic figures. With the Fed due to wrap up its two-day policy meeting later in the day, opinion is split on whether or not it will announce a cut in its US$85-bil-a-month, bond-buying scheme.

While some analysts point to a string of figures that indicate a healthy pick-up in the US economy, boosting the argument for a slight reduction, others say the central bank will likely wait until early next year to see if the recovery can be sustained.

"Wednesday's Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the year," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

John Kicklighter, chief currency strategist at DailyFX, said speculation about the Fed decision "has run rampant".

The latest numbers showed the economy is still fragile. Consumer prices were unchanged in November compared with October and up a tame 1.2% from the previous year. Inflation remains well below the Fed's 2% annual target.

Income growth for Americans – a key indicator of the health of the economy – remained modest at 1.1% year-on-year

The Dow edged a touch lower, the S&P 500 fell 0.31% and the Nasdaq eased 0.14%.

On currency markets, the dollar rose to 102.82 yen in early trade from 102.63 yen in New York late Tuesday. The euro bought US$1.3762 and 141.50 yen against US$1.3765 and 141.28 yen.

Japanese shares outperformed the region after Tokyo released figures showing exports last month rose 18.4% year-on-year, boosted by shipments of automobiles and a weaker yen. Expectations had been for a 17.3% rise, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

However, while the likes of Toyota and Sony benefited, the softer currency also sent the price of imports higher, especially for energy. Imports soared 21.1%, leaving Tokyo with a trade deficit for the 17th straight month.

Oil prices edged up. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, was up seven cents at US$97.29 in early Asian trading while Brent North Sea crude for February gained seven cents to US$108.51.

Gold fetched US$1,234.40 at 0220 GMT compared with US$1,239.20 late Tuesday –AFP

Foreign investment in China up 5.48% in first 11 months


BEIJING: Foreign investment into China rose 5.48% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2013, the government said Wednesday.

Foreign direct investment (FDI), which excludes financial sectors, totalled US$105.5bil for January-November, the ministry of commerce announced.

For November alone FDI increased 2.35% to US$8.48bil, the ministry said.

Investment from the European Union jumped 17.36% to US$6.8bil during the January-November period, while that from the US increased 8.6% to US$3.2bil.

Most investment into China comes from a group of 10 Asian countries and regions including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. FDI from them rose 7.45% to US$91.4bil in the year to November.

China's overseas investment increased 28.3% year-on-year to US$80.2bil during the same period, the ministry said.

While investment going to Hong Kong and Japan decreased 0.6% and 13.3% respectively, investment into Russia surged 685%, while it was also up 232.2% to the US – AFP


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Pay fines or face arrest'


KUALA LUMPUR: Only 30% of the 1.7 million motorists with unsettled summonses have paid up since Ops Cantas Khas Trafik – the nationwide crackdown started.

Commenting on the poor response, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said traffic offenders were still stubborn despite being given ample opportunities to do so.

"Those who have not settled their summonses seem to take our warnings for granted," he said at a press conference after unveiling the new Bukit Aman Crime Prevention department's bus at the Police Academy yesterday.

While there is no deadline to pay up under the Ops Cantas Khas Trafik, offenders are urged to settle their summonses as soon as possible.

He said 2,004 traffic offenders with warrants of arrest had been picked up since the start of the special operation on Nov 25.

"Most of the arrests were made in Johor (760); followed by Sabah (306), Selangor (160) and other states," he said, adding that the traffic summonses did not include the AES summonses.

Khalid added that he was still mull­ing over the proposal to suspend the licences of blacklisted motorists who were stub­born and did not want to settle their summon­ses.

On another matter, Khalid said police would be recording the statement of former senior police officer Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim in relation to his police report against lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for filing an inaccurate affidavit.

He was responding to a news portal report that Mat Zain had lodged a four-page police report on Sunday against Shafee alleging that the latter had made an inaccurate affidavit over the Govern­ment's appeal against the verdict in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II trial.

On the Crime Prevention Depart­ment bus, Khalid said the vehicle would be used to conduct a nationwide tour highlighting police successes as well as spreading awareness on crime prevention.

IGP: Action will be taken against DBKL protest organisers


KUALA LUMPUR: Action will be taken against organisers of a protest against property assessment revaluation that was held at Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

The protest was attended by about 500 property owners, but no arrests were made.

"The protest or rally has been deemed illegal. If the organisers have broken the law, we will take necessary action. No one has been arrested so far," Khalid told a press conference at the Police Academy here yesterday.

Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad said police would investigate as they had not received a formal notice about the gathering by the organisers, which is a requirement under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

"We will investigate to identify the organisers," he said yesterday but declined to elaborate further.

The protesters, who gathered at DBKL's headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut here as early as 10am yesterday, were accompanied by prominent Pakatan Rakyat MPs such as Seputeh's Teresa Kok, Batu's Tian Chua, Bukit Bintang's Fong Kui Lun, Lembah Pantai's Nurul Izzah Anwar, Kepong's Tan Seng Giaw and Segambut's Lim Lip Eng.

During the protest, the MPs handed over 20,000 objection letters to DBKL from their constituents. The letters were received by Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai earlier described the gathering at Dataran DBKL as a "meet-the-people" session, as Kuala Lumpur property owners would be able to submit their objections over the revaluation directly to their respective MPs.

Tan said the organisers did not notify the police about the gathering as they felt it was unnecessary.

Related stories:

Objection letters given to mayor 

Laughing man to undergo test


BUTTERWORTH: The Sessions Court here has ordered a man to undergo one month's evaluation at Hospital Bahagia Tanjung Rambutan when he laughed loudly after an attempted murder charge was read to him.

Judge Julie Lack Abdullah ordered general worker Abdul Manaf Jasin, 32, from Kampung Kepala Batas, Jalan Teluk Ipil, Nibong Tebal to be sent to the psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

He was charged with using a penknife in the attempted murder of L/Kpl Khairil Anuar Zahari, 31, at 12.30pm on Dec 7 at a house in Kampung Kepala Batas.

The offence under Section 307 of the Penal Code carries a maximum jail term of 20 years.

Abdul Manaf, who was not represented, merely laughed when the charge was read to him yesterday.

The court fixed Jan 15 for mention pending the victim's medical report and the accused's psychiatric report.

DPP Siti Aishah Ramlan represented the prosecution.

It was earlier reported that Abdul Manaf, who was arrested under anti-crime exercise Ops Cantas for alleged drug offences, had allegedly slit L/Kpl Khairil Anuar on the neck with the penknife when he was brought back to his house to collect his MyKad.

The police officer from the South Seberang Prai Narcotics Department had a wound that was about 1.5cm deep and 10cm long from the neck to his left cheek.

He had to be given 21 stitches for the injury.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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A burnt-out quantum physicist has to make the biggest decision of his existence – life or science?

WARNING to Bangers, Bazingans or whatever fans of The Big Bang Theory sitcom call themselves – stay away from Genius, lest it shatter your idea of a quantum physicist, as the television show depicts them to be, worrying about the future of the universe or if the Star Trek TV series will ever be rebooted.

As Steven T. Seagle shows in his graphic novel, quantum physicists also worry about – gasp! – money, promotions, health insurance, precocious children, sick wives and in-laws who hate them.

While midlife crisis is hardly a topic that will send graphic novel readers rushing to the bookshops, Seagle and his partner-in-storytelling Teddy Kristiansen deserve some credit for their second collaboration; it is an interesting and even inspiring read.

Genius revolves around Ted Marx – physicist extraordinaire, or rather, formerly extraordinaire. Having been told he was a science prodigy all his young life, Marx as an adult finds himself drowning in a sea of science prodigies at the physics institute where he works.

Kristiansen's emotive artwork could not be more fitting in portraying the intangible struggles of creativity and inspiration.

Teddy Kristiansen's emotive artwork could not be more fitting in portraying the intangible struggles of creativity and inspiration.

But his failure in realising his childhood potential for brilliance and making the scientific discovery of the century pales in the comparison to his problem of meeting his KPI (key performance indicators) at the office.

His mundane work pressure grows with his mounting domestic issues: putting food on the table and a roof over his family's heads. Then there is a real possibility that his wife might be terminally ill, leaving him to cope all alone.

So when life throws you lemons, what can a self-respecting scientist do? Talk to Albert Einstein, of course.

Yup, Marx talks to his hero Einstein's "spirit" for the answers to his life's problems.

But as he discovers, Einstein's formula, which he has rigorously learnt in order to plumb the secrets of the universe, cannot help him in the task of surviving daily life.

And to his surprise, the big scientific discovery he has been waiting for, the solution to his problem, is closer to home than he realises – deep in the mind of his contemptuously non-genius father-in-law.

As Marx discovers, his somewhat senile father-in-law was once a military guard to Einstein and, if he's to be believed, even Einstein's confidante for a brief time. All these years, the former soldier taunts him, he has been keeping Einstein's darkest secret – one that could be even more devastating than the atomic bomb if it is revealed – and plans to take it to his grave.

This puts Marx at a moral crossroads. Should he do all he can to dig out Einstein's last secret to save his skin, even if it means betraying his hero? Or should he protect Einstein's scientific legacy and lose everything, from his job and family to life as he knows it?

As expected, the graphic novel is speckled with the imagery of atoms and equations, but Kristiansen's emotive artwork could not be more fitting in portraying the intangible struggles of creativity and inspiration. The muted and moody hues reflect Marx's moral quandary, and when he reaches breaking point, Kristiansen lets the pages burst into colourful abstracts.

Combined with Seagle's inventive narration and sharp characterisation, Genius' illustrations capture both the depths of human emotion and heights of the human mind.

Seagle's wry humour in expressing Marx's relationship with his children (fun fact: Seagle is one of the founders of Man of Action, the studio that created Ben 10!), gives a fresh twist to what could have turned into a drab "family drama".

The funniest moments are Marx's exchanges with his son. During his birds-and-bees lecture, for example, Marx takes a liberally pragmatic approach to hem in his hormonal son's carnal curiosity. Without going into specifics, it involves the old carrot-and-stick approach, the carrot being a used car (don't ask about the stick).

Ultimately, it is Marx's conversations with his wife that grounds the story, which adds to the poignancy of the moment he finds faith again in his ghostly hero's truisms: that God does not play dice with the universe and one's world, or some stories, can end with a whimper, not a bang.

Genius and Iron, Or The War After are available at the graphic novels section of Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC. Call 03-2164 8133 or e-mail ebd3 or visit

In My Shoes


Tamara Mellon's account of how she overcame adversity in high heels, and the many enemies she made along the way.

THE first time I met Choo Yeang Keat (that's the Chinese name of Jimmy Choo, by the way) was for an interview in 1998.

Our meeting took place in Regent Hotel (now Grand Millennium) in Kuala Lumpur.

I remember it well because he was incredibly down-to-earth in spite of his rising status then as shoemaker to the stars. (Kate Winslet, fresh off her role in Titanic, wore his design to the Academy Awards that year.)

Choo also showed me the pumps that he had designed and was supposed to deliver to Princess Diana before her ill-timed death. "The one thing I remember about Diana was her good heart; she always cared for people more than herself," said Choo at that time.

As our photographer was taking his portrait shots, Choo was self-conscious about his receding hairline. ("Well, luckily you're not a hat designer," I quipped.)

Since then, receding hairline or not, we all know how far Choo – now a Prof Datuk – has come along.

Our favourite shoemaker is mentioned frequently throughout In My Shoes. This is Tamara Mellon's much-hyped memoirs which she co-penned with William Patrick (who co-wrote Sidney Poitier's The Measure Of A Man).

Alas, Choo is not cast in a favourable light in Mellon's book. She repeatedly addresses Choo as a mere cobbler and describes him as a "creative head who in fact had no creativity".

In a particularly scathing scene, Mellon claimed that after a business trip to Italy, Choo had "taken all the free paper and soap and everything else he could grab from the hotel and stuffed it into his bag. It wasn't even a nice hotel we'd been staying in."

She also writes in detail about the turbulent relationship between Choo and his niece Sandra Choi. By the end of the book, Mellon describes Choi – now the creative director of the company that bears her uncle's name – as "still my biggest disappointment".

So if you're looking for juicy gossip and loads of name-dropping, you'll find them here. For instance, did you know that Mellon used to date Hollywood actor Christian Slater? Because I didn't.

But, and this is a big BUT, you have to take everything with a pinch of salt. Because this is Mellon's side of the story – her versions of events – we cannot be sure whether she has exaggerated or embellished situations.

One thing is for sure, Mellon – the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, the company – does have one heck of a story to tell. And while these memoirs make for an interesting read, she alternates between being a fascinating and frustrating protagonist.

From her troubled childhood to her time as a young editor at Vogue to her partnership with Choo to her very public relationships, Mellon offers an account of the episodes that have made her who she is today.

Early in the book, she is eager to point out that: "The Sunday Times once wrote that I seemed 'less an actual person than the heroine of some dicey Danielle Steel bonkathon'. The basic Danielle Steel conceit is to take a plucky heroine, set her on a quest, and then subject her to every villain and viper and obstacle imaginable, which, I suppose, is not an entirely bad summary of my life so far."

In her insistence to cast herself as a Danielle Steel heroine, Mellon often paints herself as the damsel in distress. While she takes credit for almost everything (except perhaps the invention of sliced bread), she points fingers at everyone else for failures. She also complains incessantly about how bad her life is.

Because it's written in snappy conversational prose, reading In My Shoes feels like you're chatting with a friend over a hot cuppa or a glass of champagne. But the chapters are abruptly edited, and the writing is mediocre at its best. The book's last quarter can also be tedious, with its emphasis on the minute details of business transactions.

The first quarter of In My Shoes is devoted, naturally, to how Mellon started the high-end shoe company. When her father lent her the seed money, he cautioned her: "Don't let the accountants run your business." Over the next 15 years, the struggle between "financial" and "creative" would become one of the central themes of her working life.

Mellon's business savvy, creative eye, and flair for design built Jimmy Choo into a premier name in the competitive fashion industry. Over time, she grew Jimmy Choo into a billion dollar brand. She became the British prime minister's trade envoy and was honoured by the Queen with the Order of the British Empire.

Meanwhile, her love for all things glamorous kept her an object of media fascination. Vogue photographed her wedding. Vanity Fair covered her divorce and the criminal trial that followed. Harper's Bazaar toured her London town house and her New York mansion, right down to the closets. And the Wall Street Journalhinted at the relentless battle between "the suits" and "the creatives", and Mellon's triumph against a brutally hostile takeover attempt.

But despite her eventual fame and fortune, Mellon writes that she didn't have an easy road to success. Her beginnings in the mansions of London and Beverly Hills were marked by a tumultuous and broken family life, battles with anxiety and depression, and a stint in rehab.

Determined not to end up penniless and living in her parents' basement under the control of her alcoholic mother, Mellon honed her natural business sense and invested in what she knew best: fashion.

In creating the shoes that became a fixture on Sex And The City and red carpets around the world, Mellon relied on her own sense of what the customer wanted – because she was that customer.

But these memoirs reveal that success came at a high price – after struggles with an obstinate business partner (that would be Choo), a conniving first CEO, a turbulent marriage, and a mother who tried to steal her hard-earned wealth.

This book comes at a timely juncture, as Mellon readies herself for her next entrepreneurial venture bearing her name.

In My Shoes will appeal to fashion aficionados, aspiring entrepreneurs, and anyone who loves a juicy (true?) story about sex, drugs, money and power. And, of course, Mellon's version of how she overcomes adversity in high heels.

Iron, Or The War After


THIS is a book about the aftermath of a long war, in a world of constant winter. An intelligence spy from the Resistance – the rabbit, Hardin, steals secret information from a military base of the Regime …

Wait a minute, a rabbit? What is this, Brer Rabbit the Super Spy? Bugs Bunny Undercover?

With its talking rabbits, goats, tigers, crows and foxes, Iron, Or The War After may seem like something out of an Enid Blyton book, but writer/artist Shane-Michael Vidaurri's debut graphic novel is anything but childish.

It is a sombre and serious look at two sides in a conflict, a brooding look at war, honour, betrayal and death.

The book itself is a treasure to behold – beautifully bound in a red cloth cover, lovingly hugging page after page of gorgeous, soft, watercolour artwork. Every page seems like a piece of art in itself, and Vidaurri uses a mostly greyish-blue colour palette to portray the general sombre mood of the story.

Vidaurri's official biography states that he received a BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts, and that his work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and publications, including WIN magazine, The Indypendent, and Powerpop Comics. Most tellingly of all, it also tells us that his New Jersey apartment is "filled with many animals".

The anthropomorphic characters in Iron are anything but animalistic.

The anthropomorphic characters in Iron are anything but animalistic.

Whether those animals in his home were instrumental in his decision to make Iron an anthropomorphic tale remains unknown, but it was an inspired choice of medium for this story. His "good guys" are mainly portrayed by the more timid and least threatening creatures – rabbits, goats, and so on; while the antagonists comprise tigers, lions and ravens, animals that we perceive to be a lot more aggressive and hence, "bad".

But there is more to this tale than rabbit versus tiger, carnivore versus herbivore, or good versus evil. At first, Vidaurri's use of animals as his characters gave me the impression that he was looking to portray each character's personality according to the corresponding animal, but his characters are anything but animalistic. In fact, they seemed even more … human than some actual people portrayed in other books.

In an interview with The Morton Report, Vidaurri describes Iron as "The Wind In The Willows meets All Quiet On The Western Front", and it's not hard to see why. While there are one or two more action-oriented setpieces here, the main focus of Iron is on the characters' reactions and mental states as they struggle with the consequences and effects of being at war.

While a little depressing at times, Iron is nevertheless a fine debut by Vidaurri, and has the look and feel of a real labour of love. Just don't expect the rabbits to start munching carrots and asking, "What's up, doc?"


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Spanish artist Nacho Ruiz's tangle of lights


Spanish artist Nacho Ruiz's Meeting Point, a fibre optic light installation, was one of the unsung highlights at the Urbanscapes 2013 festival in Serdang, Selangor last month. Moving on from his Malaysian debut installation, Ruiz has now been commissioned for a new light installation at Publika, Solaris Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur.

The new piece entitled Infinity resides inside the Publika Boulevard. It will be on display till Feb 14.

Made from fibre optic materials, optic luminaire machine, plastic mirrors and wood panels, Infinity is a black box in the centre of Publika.

The public can access the interior of the piece, designed as a space of mirrors and fibre optics that automatically becomes part of the installation.

"Perhaps our children and certainly our grandchildren will be able to access a state of infinite or eternal life,'' said Ruiz about this new work.

"This concept is already latent in our lives as our digital footprint will remain an eternal way of social networking,'' he added.

Visitors are encouraged to pose with the artworks and take digital photos of themselves to complete the intention of the piece.

For Infinity at Publika, Ruiz collaborated with Malaysian artist Adeputra Masri while Ferran Benavent and Maria Carbonell from Ruiz's hometown of Valencia, also helped out.

* More details at

Rediscovering science in photo exhibition


A double-bill photo exhibition puts a face to Nobel Laureates and prominent Malaysian scientists.

THERE was nothing special about the drawings. Aesthetically, they were not appealing. Not a great feat in the artistic world. Leonardo da Vinci would have spurned them. Mere doodles they would have been to his eyes.

But not so the people who drew these sketches.

They would have stood as his equals. They may not be the best of artists in the world but they are the brightest minds on Earth.

And putting a face on these Nobel Laureates, who otherwise may go unnoticed by the masses, is German photographer Volker Steger.

Aaron Ciechanover's sketch reads like a modern poem

Aaron Ciechanover's sketch reads like a modern poem.

Titled Sketches of Science: Photo Sessions With Nobel Laureates (SOS), this travelling photographic exhibition, now at Galeri Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, was a playful experiment by Steger, where he presented Nobel laureates a piece of paper and a box of crayons and asked them to draw their discoveries. Then, he photographed the laureates together with their sketches in a very lighthearted manner.

In the SOS catalogue, Steger said, "Such a portrait could show the Laureates and their discoveries in a very personal way. The idea was to get something spontaneous. Indeed, the sketches turned out to be as varied as the Nobel Laureates who drew them."

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Nobel Museum and the Foundation Lindau Nobel Prize Winners Meeting.

"What inspired us with this exhibition is how this concept allows the scientists to show their personality, which is very diverse. When you look at the photographs, you would notice that all of them have one thing in common. They are happy and they are playful.

"They deal with serious topics but they enjoy what they do and that is the main purpose of this exhibition," shared Dr Ulf Larsson in a recent interview.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn used emoticons and sound effects in her sketch

Elizabeth H. Blackburn used emoticons and sound effects in her sketch.

The common notions of scientists are that of rigidity, repetitive processes and humdrums. Or maybe, some may go as far as Dr Frankenstein himself. However, as Steger himself pointed out, these photographs show a very human side of the scientists.

This ismost evident in the photograph of Martin L. Chalfie, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008 for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.

Chalfie is seen sitting upright on the floor, holding his sketch, wearing a casual red Polo t-shirt, khakis and sandals!

What happened to proper lab attire one may ask, but that is exactly what Steger wishes to dispel via this exhibition, that scientists aren't always as how we envision them. Amongst the 50 Nobel Laureates who are photographed are Richard R. Ernst, Oliver Smithies and Martin J. Evans, whose sketch was the head of a mouse, under which he wrote his own name. Evans won the Nobel prize for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.

Larsson, the Senior Curator of the Nobel Museum where the exhibition began in June 2012, went on to say that besides humanising the laureates and giving them a face, the exhibition could also act as an educational tool.

"How do you present science? If you look at their sketches, you would realise that some of them are very pedagogical, some are very casual and some are very reluctant.

"This is because they may not be used to visualising their discoveries as opposed to words and equations. So, these drawings can be used to make science interesting and accessible to people, especially the young ones," Larsson reckoned.

Replicating this same concept in our home front is The Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) with the Faces Of Science (FOS) exhibition, which will run side by side with SOS. Purely an initiative by ASM, the FOS endeavours to recognise Malaysian scientists.

"We hope to show through this exhibition that there are Malaysian scientists who have achieved something in their field, internationally. We also want to make science attractive and interesting, especially to the young ones and inspire them to take up science," said Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, ASM's president.

The Sketches Of Science and Faces Of Science exhibition is on till Jan 31 at Galeri Petronas Level 3, Suria KLCC. Free admission. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-8pm. For more info, visit‎


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Singha heiress on a mission


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


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


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