Isnin, 3 Februari 2014

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Horses fight in Chinese New Year battles

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

TIANTOU VILLAGE: In southern China, many ushered in the Year of the Horse with hooves clashing in mid-air and stallions biting opponents as cheers rang in the air.

For the residents of Tiantou, a remote village in the Guangxi region, the 500-year-old tradition which pits male horses against each other in a fight over a female was the only way to kick off the Lunar New Year.

"Without horse fighting it wouldn't feel like a new year," said Pan Jianming, whose horse Little Black reared-up on its hind legs and bit its opponent's neck to scoop victory in a competition this weekend.

"He stood up and hit the other horse straight away," Pan, a 31-year-old air conditioner repairman, said.

"If he likes the female horse, it doesn't matter how much pain he's in, he won't run away," he added, his black and white shirt stained with blood which dripped from a gash on his horse's nose.

"We have medicine to treat his injuries, and he will gradually get better," added Pan, who claimed a champion's prize of 500 yuan (RM276).

Fifteen animals fought in bouts, which saw horses jump into the air with their front hooves spinning before crashing down on their opponents and biting their head or neck, sometimes drawing hair and blood.

Horse fighting competitions held by the Miao – an ethnic group living in mountain areas of Southern China and South-East Asia – date back more than five centuries, according to locals.

The first battle is said to have been held to settle a dispute between two brothers who both hoped to marry the same woman.

But the fights, held in small mountain villages in Southern China every year with prizes of up to 10,000 yuan (RM5,520), have been condemned by animal rights groups.

In 2010, Hong-Kong based Ani­mals Asia called horse-fighting a "horrific spectacle", accusing the scraps of causing "abuse and suffering to animals in the name of entertainment".

The stallions are encouraged to fight by the presence of a female horse, who is kept metres away from the clashing pairs by a villager armed with little more than a stick.

The horse which successfully defends its position close to the female is declared the winner.

Animals Asia has said that the female horses are sometimes "induced into season through the injection of hormones".

In Tiantou, hundreds of spectators gathered just metres away from the battling equines – without any barriers separating them from the action.

Onlookers scramble to escape when pairs of bucking mares periodically galloped towards them.

Others shouted: "Fight, Fight!" as the animals clashed but most insisted the contest was not cruel. — AFP

At least four killed in grenade attack on cinema

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PESHAWAR: At least four people were killed and 31 wounded when unidentified attackers hurled two grenades at a cinema in northwest Pakistan, police and medics said.

The attack on the Picture House cinema in Peshawar, the region's main city, took place as some 90 people were watching a late night show of the film Ziddi Pakhtun (Stubborn Pushtun), police said.

"Attackers hurled two grenades and fled the scene," Faisal Mukhtar, a senior police official said.

A stampede following the blasts was responsible for many of the injuries, Mukhtar added.

Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital said three dead bodies and 31 injured people had so far been taken to his hospital.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said that cinema houses in the city were already under threat.

"We had informed the cinema owner about the possible threats," Najeeb-ur-Rahman, a senior police officer said.

Peshawar is a frontline city in Pakistan's battle against Islamist insurgents, who regard films as sinful. The Taliban closed down cinemas in the scenic Swat valley in the country's northwest which they controlled from 2007-2009.

The decline of cinema houses in Peshawar has also been accelerated by the advent of videos, DVDs and the Internet and today only seven remain. — AFP

‘Sharing economy’ gaining traction in the republic

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

INSTEAD of leaving the stuff in his storeroom to gather dust, media and events company owner Lyndon Yeo has found a way to make money from it.

Using the online platform, the 46-year-old rented out items from tentages to air pum­ps, which he used only occasionally, and earned more than S$1,000 (RM2,600).

For David Thomson, renting Yeo's tents for an event last September saved him the hassle of storing and maintaining an item which he needed to use only once.

This is the sharing economy – a marketplace where ordinary people rent and share anything from plastic stools to homes and cars. And going by the figures, Singaporeans are taking a healthy interest in this new form of consumption., which lets people rent anything from drills to flipcharts, has picked up 1,700 users since it was launched in January last year.

Meanwhile,, a similar service which allows people to rent their neighbours' tools or even pay them for services such as computer repair, now has about 3,500 users since launching last March. iCarsclub, a website where people rent out their cars, has 220 cars available and about 6,500 registered users., a carpooling service, has about 16,000 users.

Since around 2010, about 20 co-working spaces have also mushroomed, enabling people to share workspaces with each other instead of having to bear the full cost of renting an office.

Said Eugene Tay, 36, who runs a co-working space called Ecosystem: "When you buy a drill, what you want is the hole, and not the drill. The old model is buy and throw away, but if you use it once, why not rent it from a neighbour who has it?"

Despite the benefits of the sharing economy, it still faces challenges in Singapore. The worry that strangers might ruin your stuff is a common one. "But in practice, that rarely happens," said Fenni Wang, 28, co-founder of

The former civil servant recalls only two cases of damage since her site started. In one case, a customer forgot to return the box of a popcorn machine, and her deposit was forfeited as compensation. In another case, a customer left the deep fryer on the bus, but the owner did not mind as she rarely used the machine anyway.

"In most cases, customers can settle things between themselves," she said.

Sharing economy companies also have measures such as deposits and additional insurance. Most sharing economy platforms also allow users to rate each other.

Singapore University of Techno­logy and Design's Professor Saif Benjaafar, an expert in the sharing economy, believes it may be time for governments to tweak some of their policies in a way that encourages sharing.

"They need to recognise the emergence of new businesses models and new ways people are consuming and sharing goods and services." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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