Jumaat, 24 Januari 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Truckers stuck in middle of divide

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

SALAMABAD: The 49 truck drivers, grizzled men from the mountains of Kashmir, were on a routine job dropping goods across the de facto border between Pakistan and India when a drugs bust left them stranded.

For more than a week, the men from the Pakistani side of the divided region, one of the world's most sensitive faultlines, have been stuck in the middle of a row that reflects the difficulty in boosting regional ties through trade.

Last Friday, Indian police along the treacherous mountain road leading between the two sides seized a truck and arrested its driver after 114kg of heroin were found concealed in a consignment of almonds.

Pakistani authorities then refused to let the other trucks in the convoy, or the 48 other drivers, back across the heavily militarised Line of Control unless the arrested man was returned as well. They also detained 27 Indian trucks and their drivers, who had crossed over on the same day to deliver goods as part of a barter trade agreement that was started as a "confidence-building measure" in 2008.

Huddled inside a hall at the Trade Facilitation Centre in Salamabad, 115km from Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, the Pakistani drivers are found watching a Bollywood film on cable TV.

"We are becoming a tragic movie ourselves," said 30-year-old Ahsan Awan from Muzaffarabad.

Under Indian law, smuggling or possessing narcotics is a serious offence that lands an accused in jail without bail. — AFP

Fear over effects of emergency on Thai economy

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

BANGKOK: Foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand have raised serious concerns about this week's emergency decree affecting Bangkok and surrounding provinces, saying it will hurt the tourism sector and lead to a loss of investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations yesterday urged the government to cancel the decree before its 60-day period ends, arguing that it will damage investors confidence, domestic trading, and the everyday life of people.

Tourism Council of Thailand president Piyaman Tejapaibul also said a special meeting of its members yesterday passed a resolution to ask the government to rescind the decree as soon as possible.

However, despite their concerns, many chambers still believe in Thailand's basic economic strength, resilience, and other supporting factors such as its geographical location, in a perfect position to become a regional leader when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is launched next year.

In normal times, hotels in Bangkok are fully booked during December and January. When the anti-government protests started, the cancellation rate was 30%, and after the state of emergency was declared, it went up to 70%, said Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand.

Simon Landy, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, said the political situation was creating uncertainty, and businesses don't like that, but the main effect of the declared state of emergency would be on tourism.

"The number of British visitors to Bangkok went down this month, but Phuket and Samui have no problem at all. Group tours will be the most affected by the state of emergency since it will be impossible for them to get travel insurance for their customers," he said.

Phuket and Chiang Mai would benefit from the situation in Bangkok since many tourists would just go straight to other destination in Thailand instead of stopping in the capital for a few days as they usually do, he said.

Caretaker Tourism Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said yesterday that after the "Bangkok shutdown" reached its second week many countries had begun warning their citizens about coming to Thailand.

Kalin Sarasin, secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said he did not agree with the declaration of the state of emergency because it would lower investors' confidence and lead to missed opportunities, since many big business events scheduled for February and March have already begun to be cancelled.

Darren Buckley, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said the emergency decree would mainly affect the tourism sector but would have only a small impact on investor confidence.

He said many long-term foreign investors still believed in Thailand's resilience to setbacks and he agreed with Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul's comment that the economic fundamentals are sound and should be able to carry the country out of this slump once the political conflict is resolved. — The Nation / Asia News Network

MP aims to table Bill on human trafficking in November

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Four public consultations have been targeted in March and April for a proposed private member's Bill which seeks to combat human trafficking.

"We are aiming to gather the views and insights of voluntary welfare organisations, religious and secular volunteer groups, business and students communities some of whom have already expressed interest in getting involved with the Bill," said Christopher de Souza, Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in a press statement yesterday.

He said the aim is to table the Bill in November and conclude its second reading in first quarter of next year. de Souza had been given the greenlight by the Home Affairs Ministry in November last year to introduce the Bill.

A private member's Bill – one that is introduced by MPs who are not Cabinet ministers – are rare.

The last such Bill to be successfully passed in Singapore was the Maintenance of Parents Act, which was introduced by then-nominated MP Walter Woon in 1994.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli had said last year that the government supported de Souza's initiative.

He has also asked the Inter-Agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons to support the MP on developing the Bill. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

Ukraine's president promises to reshuffle government next week

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 07:15 PM PST

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, in what appeared to be an offer of major concessions to the opposition amid mass protests against his rule, pledged on Friday to reshuffle the government next week and to amend sweeping anti-protest laws.

In comments to church leaders, reported by Interfax news agency, Yanukovich said key decisions would be made at a special session of parliament scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

"We will take a decision at this session. The president will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team," he said.

The dismissal of the government of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has been one of the main demands of the opposition in two months of unrest.

Referring for the first time to the need to work closely with the opposition, he said opposition leaders would be brought into an anti-crisis team which he would lead.

"I will do all I can to stop this conflict, to stop violence," he said.

But he added that if this was not possible "all legal methods" would be used to tackle the situation.

Yanukovich sparked the first mass rallies against his rule last November after pulling out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord.

They have since spiralled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine's leaders and officials and there have been violent clashes with police in the city centre in which three protesters were killed this week.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Ukraine leader pledges government reshuffle ahead of more rallies

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 07:15 PM PST

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, in what appeared to be an offer of concessions to the opposition amid violent protests against his rule, pledged on Friday to reshuffle the government next week and to amend sweeping anti-protest laws.

Yanukovich made his offer in comments to church leaders as the protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building in Kiev ahead of what is expected to be another hot weekend of anti-government rallies.

The president's Party of the Regions confirmed reports that two months of protests had spread to other parts of Ukraine, particularly to pro-European Union western regions, where it said "extremists" had seized administrative buildings.

Yanukovich, who hails from the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, said key decisions would be made at a special session of parliament scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

"I as president will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team," he said in comments carried on his website.

He gave no indication of how wide the government reshuffle would be and it was by no means certain Prime Minister Mykola Azarov or any other key figures would have to step down.

The dismissal of the Azarov government has been one of the main demands of the opposition and Yanukovich's words were clearly intended to look like a concession to opponents who have voiced frustration at his stalling tactics in talks until now.

The promise to reconsider anti-protest legislation, which was rail-roaded through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists, also appeared to be a concession, which may take some steam out of fresh protest rallies planned for the weekend.


The mass rallies against Yanukovich's rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord.

They have since spiralled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine's leaders and officials and there have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city centre in which three protesters died this week, two from gunshot wounds.

The protesters control key parts of the city centre, including its main Independence Square. On Friday, they occupied the main agricultural ministry building after talks stalled on Thursday night between Yanukovich and the opposition.

Commenting on the spread of protests to other cities, the Party of the Regions said in a statement: "The situation has grown sharper throughout the country." It urged Ukrainians to ignore the calls of "radical troublemakers" to join the rallies.

Thousands stormed regional administration headquarters in Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the northeast, the Party of the Regions said.

More than 100 people have been detained in the unrest, including 24 formally arrested, according to police.

But though some protesters lit tyres at the main flashpoint area near Dynamo Kiev football stadium, they generally appeared to have heeded an opposition call to maintain a truce.

In other conciliatory comments on Friday, Yanukovich said he would bring opposition leaders into an anti-crisis team and he said people who had been detained so far and had not committed serious crimes would be amnestied.

"I will do all I can to stop this conflict, to stop this violence and establish stability," he told the church leaders, according to his web site.

But, referring to radicals who have bombarded riot police with petrol bombs and cobblestones, he said: "If we do not succeed, we will use all legal methods provided for by law."

There was no immediate reaction from opposition leaders to Yanukovich's comments on Friday.


Earlier, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said the only way out of the impasse lay now with international mediation.

"Instead of shifting to solving the situation by common sense, Yanukovich has declared war on his own people. He is trying to hold on to power at the price of blood and de-stabilisation of the situation in the country. He has to be stopped," the former world heavyweight boxing champion said.

In Vienna, Europe's main human rights and security body said it stood ready to mediate in the crisis after its current chairman, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, met Azarov on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Burkhalter told Azarov the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to which Ukraine belongs, "could offer its expertise to facilitate dialogue between the government and opposition", the OSCE said in a statement.

The crisis in the ex-Soviet republic of 46 million people has rung alarm bells in the West, while Russia has warned against Western interference in the crisis.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Yanukovich on Thursday and warned him that failing to de-escalate the standoff could have "consequences", the White House said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have both called for dialogue.

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields in Vienna; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Syria sides to meet but peace talks may not take off

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 05:10 PM PST

GENEVA (Reuters) - After a day's delay and repeated bitter recriminations, the warring sides in Syria will hold their first joint meeting on Saturday to launch talks aimed at ending almost three years of conflict.

In a measure of the task ahead, diplomatic sources said the first two days of talks in Geneva would involve discussing a deal to allow aid into a single city, Homs, where people are starving.

The peace conference almost collapsed on Friday, the day face-to-face talks were meant to start, and was only put back on track after United Nations mediator Lakhdar Brahimi persuaded the two sides to focus on smaller issues on which there might be agreement.

"We do expect some bumps on the road," Brahimi told a news conference after separate meetings with the two delegations.

With international divisions over how to end the conflict putting an overall political solution out of reach for now, the two sides will focus on small, confidence-building steps with no certainty negotiations will even last the week.

"Both parties will be here tomorrow...they will not leave on Saturday or Sunday," Brahimi said.

Opposition delegate Anas al-Abdah said the process would begin with a brief meeting at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Saturday at which only Brahimi would speak, to be followed by another longer session in the afternoon.

Even that may not come off.

One diplomatic source, noting the fierce verbal attacks that marked the opening of the conference in the Swiss city of Montreux on Wednesday, said on Friday he had become cautious.

"Compared to 10 days ago, we've had Montreux with both delegations, this start in Geneva with an extra day's delay, tomorrow 30 minutes with the two delegations and then maybe a subject they can agree on. Small steps, but small steps are better than no steps."

"It's clear there will be hysterical episodes each day."


Humanitarian access for Homs, where rebels are surrounded in central districts by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, could be agreed fast.

"The practical aspects have been worked on. Things are ready and if the government doesn't put a block on it then it could happen quickly," a diplomatic source said.

But deep mutual mistrust and the absence from Geneva of powerful Islamist opposition groups and Assad's ally Iran make any substantial progress very difficult.

The opposition said early on Friday it would not meet the government side unless it first agreed to publicly endorse a 2012 statement by world powers calling for a transitional government in Syria.

The government rejected the demand and said its negotiators would leave Geneva unless serious talks began within a day.

After talking to both sides, Brahimi indicated on Friday afternoon their argument, which centres on whether Assad would have to step down, had been put to one side.

"Tomorrow we have agreed that we shall meet in the same room," Brahimi said. The negotiations would be based on the 2012 statement, known as Geneva 1, which he acknowledged was subject to differing interpretations.

"We wanted these delegations nominated months ago to prepare things better," he said.

Diplomats are playing down any hopes of progress.

"Expectations are so low we'll see how things develop day by day," a Western diplomat said.


Brahimi had already indicated that his aim was to start by seeking practical steps, such as local ceasefires, prisoner releases and access for international aid deliveries, before embarking on the tougher political negotiations.

"I think an immediate political solution is unrealistic, unfortunately," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 24 television.

Syria's civil war has already killed at least 130,000 people, driven more than a third of the country's 22 million people from their homes and made half dependent on aid, including hundreds of thousands cut off by fighting.

Among the hurdles to progress, the Islamist militants who control most rebel-held territory are boycotting the talks and say anyone attending negotiations that fail to bring down Assad would be traitors.

Assad's main regional backer, Iran, is also not represented at the Geneva talks. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Tehran at the last minute, but then withdrew the invitation 24 hours later when it refused to endorse the Geneva 1 protocol.

(Additional reporting by John Irish, Samia Nakhoul, Dominic Evans, Tom Miles, Stephanie Nebehay, Alexandria Sage, Kinda Makiyeh, Vincent Fribault and Gabriela Baczynska; Writing by Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

Tougher competition, healthier industry

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

The National Automotive Policy (NAP) is crafted to liberalise and make the auto industry in Malaysia more efficient and dynamic. There will be pain before the gain but the journey towards a freer industry will have its challenges. Perodua boss Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh and auto industry expert from Frost & Sullivan Kavan Mukhtyar share their insight on the NAP and the changes ahead with StarBizWeek.

President and chief executive officer
Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd

StarBizWeek: If successful, the National Automotive Policy (NAP) will see global energy-efficient vehicle (EEV) manufacturers come to Malaysia. That is in direct competition with what Perodua does. How will this affect you and what will your response be?

Aminar: Competition in the A and B segments have already started a few years back and with the introduction of the EEV into the market, the competition in the automotive industry will get tougher.

We view this development positively as increased competition will only make the industry healthier and more efficient despite the challenges.

To meet with these challenges, Perodua has embarked on a strategic 5-year roadmap to make us globally competitive in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

Within these are three factors include pricing, quality product offerings and high standard of service (for both sales and after sales) as well as parts.

These initiatives are already bearing fruit such as the Perodua S-Series introduced last year and the new Alza introduced recently which not only include better offerings but also on-the-road price reduction across our model line-up.

In addition, we have given all our customers (who purchase their vehicle since March 2013 and this year) a 3-year free service package as we believe that value is not only reflected in the price but overall ownership experience and the total cost of ownership.

How do you think the reduction of car prices would impact the company and its profit margins, if at all? What will Perodua do to address this?

In the revised NAP announced recently, the International Trade and Industry Minister mentioned that there will be a gradual price reduction of vehicles. That being said, the actual reduction will be determined by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) themselves after taking into consideration competition due to the liberalisation of the automotive market.

For the industry in general, cost is a big factor in car pricing and hence the importance of cost reduction activities across the supply chain would be essential towards being price competitive in the market while continue to enjoy reasonable profit margins.

For Perodua, we have embarked on a 5-year strategic roadmap (since 2011) to ensure that our entire supply chain will be able to compete and reap the benefits of liberalisation.

Apart from cost, we also need to improve on our productivity and efficiency in all aspects of our operations, including reducing or eliminating wastages. This journey will continue as there is always room for improvement.

We have also put more emphasis on our after-sales services to enhance our customer experience while at the same time introducing more value-added products and services such as Perodua's Pre-owned Vehicle business.

This used-car business is more towards supporting our sales operations by making it easier for our customers to trade in their current vehicle for a new Perodua.

These initiatives are designed to ensure that our customers' needs are well looked after.

In summary, while there is a strong desire and intention to bring down vehicles prices, sometimes it may not be possible. As an alternative, we give added value to our vehicles while at the same time bring down the cost of ownership.

This is part and parcel of Perodua's original mandate to manufacture and market quality-yet-affordable, value-for-money vehicles for Malaysians.

What do you feel on the NAP details announced and what do you think is needed to make the NAP a success?

We are thankful that the Government has taken most of our views into consideration on the revised NAP. We believe that constant engagement with the relevant stakeholders – for example OEMs, consumers and media – is crucial in making the NAP a success.

Close monitoring is also crucial to ensure that projects undertaken are on track.

That being said, there are still more details to be announced regarding the NAP, as the Government has requested for more time to do an in-depth study on a few issues.

While Thailand and Indonesia may have had a headstart, we believe that Malaysia can still create a niche in the EEV market and complement the neighbouring countries.

There must be commitment from all stakeholders to ensure the success of the revised NAP and for the local automotive industry to move forward.

On the whole, how will the NAP affect Perodua's business?

The NAP has issued a challenge to the OEMs to be more competitive and we have taken this positively.

Perodua is mandated to produce affordable yet high-quality compact cars and we will continue to do so. In this sense, there will be no change.

What is expected to change is the level of competition, which is expected. In meeting this, we will commit to our 5-year strategic roadmap to ensure that we will be relevant in the automotive industry.

The strategic roadmap focuses on four areas of transformation:


·Products and services

·Research and development and procurement

·Customer services and satisfaction

Perodua will continue to invest and we (along with our partner Daihatsu Motor Co of Japan) are committed to improve and develop the local automotive industry.

We are happy yet humble to be where we are today as the most preferred automotive brand in the country and we aim to increase our footprint outside Malaysia in the near future.

We will soon embark on the second phase of the 5-year strategic roadmap that will propel Perodua into 2020.

Frost & Sullivan partner and automotive and transportation practice head for Asia-Pacific, Kavan Mukhtyar, at a briefing on Jan 5, 2012.

Kavan: 'The policy indicates that Malaysia has chos en the path of progressive liberalis ation rather than disrup tive liberalis ation.'

Partner and head of automotive & transportation practice, Asia-Pacific
Frost & Sullivan

StarBizWeek: What are your thoughts on the NAP in general? In your opinion, how does this NAP (2014) leverage over its predecessor?

Kavan: In our opinion, the NAP 2014 is a fine balancing act between the priorities of attracting new investments, developing sustainable industry competitiveness on one hand and safeguarding the interests of existing investors and stakeholders.

The policy indicates that Malaysia has chosen the path of progressive liberalisation rather than disruptive liberalisation. There are several policy signals that demonstrate Government's intent to further open the market over the next four to five years.

Many of the stated policy measures are at a macro level, and the effectiveness of the customised incentives to attract investments will depend on the specifics of the benefits available.

In summary, the NAP is along expected lines and can be viewed as a first step in a journey towards progressive market liberalisation.

The aim of the NAP is basically to attract more investments into the country. Do you think this can be realised? What, in your opinion, might need to be done further (by the Government or car players) to bring in further investments?

Unlike Thailand and Indonesia, the Malaysian EEV policy covers a wide range of vehicle segments including luxury vehicles. So there could be some possible opportunities. However, the actual investments will depend on how the incentives are compared with what other countries are offering.

In addition, OEMs will also consider other market demand and supply-chain strength factors. The potential EEV market needs to be large enough for the investments to be economically viable. At the same time, the automotive part supply chain needs to be competent to support the OEMs.

In other words, attractive incentives will need to be combined with a push to generate demand and build competencies in the supply chain. If Malaysia is able to move fast and implement projects rapidly, then it has an opportunity to attract investments.

With the freeze on manufacturing licences for vehicles below 1.8-litre lifted, how do you think this will affect players within this segment, especially for Proton and Perodua? What would they need to do to prepare for increasing competition?

If Malaysia is able to get additional investments in the A (city cars), B (small and compact cars) and C (mid-sized sedans) vehicle segments, then the national makes will face intense competition. Proton and Perodua will need to launch new models faster with greater fuel efficiency at more competitive prices. They will have to grow scale.

Also, we believe they need to move urgently to expand beyond Malaysia to grow their volumes. Opportunities in after-sales and accessories, vehicle finance and genuine auto parts should also be pushed forward to bring in higher margin revenue streams.

Related stories:

Auto policy makes big pitch in bringing in manufacturers of energy-efficient vehicle

AP policy in doubt

Slowdown in used car sales likely

World buyers line up to buy US natural gas

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 03:28 PM PST

LONDON/NEW YORK: Countries across the world have been quietly signing deals in recent months to import natural gas from the United States, revealing a growing appetite for the fuel overseas as domestic output soars.

Up to a dozen long-term deals, each worth billions of dollars, have been penned behind closed doors with companies in ChinaJapanTaiwanSpainFrance and Chile as global demand spikes, according to company, industry and trade sources.

Through the agreements, China in particular has emerged as one of the biggest beneficiaries of cheap American natural gas that in the coming years will be piped to Gulf Coast plants and liquefied for shipment abroad in tankers.

The unannounced deals, which amount to about 2 percent of daily U.S. supply, are not the first of their kind, and they depend on U.S. government approval to construct two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants.

But the number of new buyers, and their global scope, show how the United States is taking steps to becoming a major export hub by stealing ahead of rivals in Australia and East Africa, successfully wooing needy Asian buyers even before projects begin construction. Global competition may squeeze profit margins on some exports of U.S. gas.

Companies like Britain's BP <BP.L> and France's GDF Suez <GSZ.PA>, already committed to taking LNG from the United States, are now finding multiple buyers willing to take tranches of supply.

"As we see more contracts getting signed, it's an indication that the U.S. has really cheap natural gas that will help supply the global market," said Jason Bordoff, Director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

The United States is producing record amounts of natural gas thanks to a drilling boom, and more than a dozen export projects have been proposed. But large domestic users of natural gas such as the petrochemical industry are worried that unfettered exports could push prices higher at home. The Obama administration has been approving exports on a case-by-case basis.

So far, only four projects are allowed to export across the globe and only one is under construction.

Cheniere Energy's <LNG.A> Sabine Pass project in Louisiana, expected to begin shipments late in 2015, has sealed deals with importers in Europe and Asia over the past two years.

This latest batch of gas sales will be exported from Sempra Energy's <SRE.N> Cameron LNG plant inLouisiana and the Freeport LNG plant in Texas, sources said. Both plants are expected to begin operations by the end of the decade, pending approvals.

Sempra is still waiting on permits to construct the Cameron plant, and to export the gas to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. Freeport has full export approval, but is yet to begin construction.


Securing buyers early can make or break an LNG project. Without buyers, a project will not receive financial backing or be built.

GDF Suez, which acquired export rights at Cameron last year, has agreed to sell all of its 4 million tonnes per year of capacity to buyers in JapanTaiwanChina and Chile, according to a review of deals confirmed by industry sources.

Japan's Mitsubishi <8058.T> and Mitsui <8031.T>, also with export rights at Cameron, have separately targeted major buyers such as Spain's Repsol <REP.MC>, France's Total <TOTF.PA> and Japanese utilities. Mitsubishi is to sell a significant chunk of LNG to its own trading arm in Singapore. Sources said Japanese buyers were reluctant to commit to large deals while the fate of its nuclear fleet remained uncertain after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Mitsubishi is also in talks with Indian Oil Corp. <IOC.NS> to sell 1 mtpa of LNG for its planned terminal atEnnore in southern India, a company executive said. Exact volumes may be adjusted.

Sempra hopes to make a final investment decision to build the Cameron plant later this year. Once that decision is made, the deals agreed by GDF Suez, Mitsui and Mitsubishi automatically become formal sales agreements, industry sources said. The San Diego-based company expects to win export approval from the U.S. Department of Energy before April.

Meanwhile, BP is in talks to export LNG from the Freeport plant to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), giving the British company a foothold in the world's largest energy consumer. This and older deals with other exporters will soon make China one of the largest importers of U.S. gas.

BP has a further deal to supply Japanese utility Tepco with 0.5 mtpa, sources said.

BP declined to comment. Mitsui and its prospective Japanese utility customers Kansai Electric andTohoku Electric also declined comment.

For a full list of deals, see table.

More than 12 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of LNG would be exported from the United States under the deals, or around 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas, though some volumes may alter in final negotiations, sources said. U.S. daily production is about 70 billion cubic feet.

"These deals will send a signal that there is still strong demand for U.S. LNG volumes," said Andres Rojas, analyst at Waterborne Energy in Houston.

GDF was also in talks with Thailand's PTT but these were abandoned after a failure to agree terms last year, a senior PTT source said. Mitsui also broke off talks with South Korean importer GS Caltex, a source at the company said.


Despite these recent deals, sellers have found it harder than expected to find new buyers, and have had to offer favorable terms when they do.

A projected LNG supply spike between 2016-2020 from North AmericaAustraliaeast AfricaRussia andAsia has empowered buyers to push down the price of long-term deals being negotiated now.

This is partly reflected in the low profit margins U.S. exporters stand to make from many of the recently concluded agreements.

"The United States is not the only gas producer, so we are competing in a market with countries likeQatarMalaysiaAustralia and potentially East Africa," Bordoff said. "There is not infinite demand. There is only so much supply that the global market can take."

In its first long-term LNG deal into Asia, GDF Suez is selling 0.8 mtpa to Taiwan's CPC from 2018 at barely breakeven levels. According to the price formula reviewed by sources, CPC will pay around $12 per million British thermal units for the gas in the first year of the contract, a steep discount to the $16 its pays for LNG prices in Asia linked to oil.

Moreover, America's edge over rivals could easily dim should domestic gas prices rise nearer to pre-shale boom levels and crude oil prices simultaneously drop to around $80 a barrel.

At those levels, LNG deals linked to oil begin to look globally competitive, handicapping buyers of American gas.

Bearing these risks in mind, buyers nevertheless want limited exposure to U.S. LNG primarily as a way of negotiating down prices in oil-indexed, long-term contracts with Qatar and Australia.- Reuters

Cameron: China&#39;s Wanda to invest up to US$5bil in UK

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 03:25 PM PST

LONDON:  Dalian Wanda, the property developer headed by China's richest man, plans to invest up to 3 billion pounds ($5 billion) in regeneration projects in Britain, Britain's prime minister said on Friday.

Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled the investment after meeting Dalian Wanda's chairman Wang Jianlin in Davos this week. It comes after Cameron led the largest-ever British mission to China last December that involved about 100 business people.

"When I met Chairman Wang Jianlin during my recent trade visit to China, I encouraged him to make further investment into Britain. So I'm delighted that Wanda has decided to invest 2-3 billion pounds in regeneration projects so soon after my visit," Cameron said.

"This will help to create jobs in Britain and it's a great example of how we can benefit from foreign investment."

Last year Cameron launched a government-backed body to help foreign investors identify and fund UK regeneration projects after securing international funds for the Battersea Power Station project and Chinese investment for London's Nine Elms and Royal Albert Dock and Manchester City Airport.

He said 100 billion pounds worth of possible projects were on the table but on Friday he did not outline where Dalian Wanda's investment would go.

Wang is China's richest man with a net worth of $14 billion according to Forbes magazine. Dalian Wanda, a privately-held conglomerate that owns over $60 billion in hotels, commercial properties and department stores, has expanded rapidly outside China in recent years.

The company cut its first British deals in June last year when it said it would spend $1.6 billion to build an luxury London hotel and buy British yacht maker Sunseeker.

Dalian Wanda said it wanted to invest in "cultural tourism" projects but did not specify how many it planned to invest in, or whether it was currently looking at any opportunities.

In September, Wang unveiled a planned 50 billion yuan ($8.26 billion) "motion-picture" city in China's coastal Qingdao city, comprising of an indoor amusement park, hotels and the world's first underwater studio.

Foreign investors from MalaysiaQatar and China have been the source of much-needed finance for austerity-weary Britain's regeneration schemes in recent years, particularly in London, which they see as a safe and stable haven to park their cash.

Chinese state-owned developer Greenland Group purchased an disused brewery development plot earlier this month to convert into homes while developer Advanced Business Park signed a deal last year to convert a derelict site near London's City airport into offices.- Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

Enhance skills to become more marketable, students told

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

SERDANG: Students must take advantage of the various training programmes to acquire new skills that can make them more attractive to the employment market.

"Training institutes must play their role by coming up with modules that are suitable and meet the market needs to guarantee the employability of their graduates," said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the country was in need of skilled workers to drive its economic transformation programmes.

Najib added that as a country aiming to be a high income nation, the development of skilled workers was as vital as economic growth.

The Prime Minister pointed out that Malaysia had set a target to have 33% of its workforce in the high skill category in 2015; and to increase the number to 50% by 2020.

He added that the number of high skilled workers in the country was relatively low at 28% last year and the Government had undertaken initiatives to provide skills and training to those entering the employment market.

"In the 2014 Budget, the Government has, among others, allocated RM200mil to upgrade the National Youth Skills Institute (IKBN) and provided RM178mil to the Human Resource Department's training institute," he said at the presentation of the Prime Minister's Golden Hand Awards yesterday.

Najib said Human Resources Development Berhad had also set aside RM400mil for registered companies to send their staff for upskilling and re-skilling programmes.

The Prime Minister said skills competitions such as this one provides vocational students with a platform to showcase their skills, creativity and talent.

The Prime Minister's Golden Hand Awards is an annual skills competition among students from training institutes and is jointly organised by the Human Resources and Works Ministries.

Muhammad Hafiz Brahim of Pusat Latihan Teknologi Tinggi in Malacca and Muhammad Izzat Sulaiman, a student with Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, emerged winners of the award.

Fireworks worth RM400,000 seized in two incidents

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Police confiscated RM100,000 worth of fireworks and three parang during a raid at a store near a morning market along Jalan Jering.

The five-man raiding party, led by Pandamaran police station chief Insp Mohd Rushdam Mohd Yusoff, surrounded the premises at 11.45pm on Wednesday and broke through the door after repeated calls and knocks went unanswered.

"The store was vacant. Officers found boxes filled with firecrackers of different kinds, which we believed was to be sold for the Chinese New Year," said South Klang OCPD ACP Kamarul Mamat.

"We are working with the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) to ascertain the identity of the owners of the house as it was rented out by the MPK."

He said the firecrackers were smuggled into the country about a week ago.

In Tanah Merah, Kelantan police seized a container carrying 222 boxes of illegal fireworks worth RM300,000 at a roadblock in Jalan Padang Siam here on Wednesday.

District OCPD Deputy Supt of Police Abdul Aziz Mahmud said there were 11 types of fireworks found in the container.

"The suspect had driven the lorry container from Kuala Lumpur. He is believed to be doing part-time work to carry the contraband to be distributed in Ipoh," he added.

Government urged to relook NEM in quest for developed status

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government should relook the New Economic Model (NEM) to drive Malaysia towards achieving developed nation status, suggested Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said the NEM was lacking as it was not inclusive enough.

"The Government will do well to relaunch the NEM," Saifuddin said at the Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference organised by the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute (Asli).

He was on a panel which discussed "Malaysia's new politics – What next after GE13 and party elections?". Also on the panel were former MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong.

Nurul Izzah said that when the NEM was first unveiled to MPs in 2010, the Opposition was unnerved as there wasn't much of it that could be criticised.

"But then Perkasa intervened, and (the origi­nal) NEM was shelved," she claimed.

Saifuddin also spoke of the need for more government and economic transformations, and hoped to see bipartisan governance.

"I would love to see the Government and the Opposition sitting at the table to discuss fundamental policies such as education and delinea­tion of electoral constituencies.

"Also, can we migrate from race-based ­policies to needs-based policies?" he asked.

Gan stressed on the importance of a shared vision to achieve the nation's destiny.

He also said Barisan Nasional has not been "inclusive enough" and that the Barisan ­decision-making process was flawed.

"If your own allies (component parties) don't buy in your reforms, how are you going to convince others?" he said.

Liew expected the state of economy to be a hot topic among members of the public this year, saying the Government was not pursuing the right policies.

"All the price hikes will diminish the disposa­ble income of the bottom 60% (of wage earner­s)," he said, adding that it would be timely to have a full-time Finance Minister.

Currently, Najib also holds the position of Finance Minister.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

The mother of all roles for Allison Miller

Posted: 22 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Actress Allison Miller had fun starring in the scary movie Devil's Due.

Allison Miller wasn't doing anything scary when she first read the script for the movie Devil's Due. She was working on an independent film, There's Always Woodstock, that had her writing and performing music and appearing in every scene.

But there was something about the Devil's Due script that stuck her: A young woman in the throes of wedded bliss discovers that with her first pregnancy, she is carrying the spawn of Satan.

"It feels like you know these characters," says Miller, 28.

"They seemed like people who could be my friends, or maybe me. I had just gotten married, and we hadn't been on our honeymoon yet, so reading about that was very fresh to me.

"Then, getting into the pregnancy, I have always had some fears and hesitation about that for my own personal reasons, and when it starts going that bad, it really got to me."

The demonic child begins to take over his mother and their surroundings.

"I was really the scary thing," Miller says. "I'm the one making you jump. When I was doing it, it was very fun. But now, it's like watching a different person."

The experience of seeing a scary movie and being in one is different, Miller says.

"A lot goes into it, and there are all sorts of people standing around to make sure the elements work, so it's never actually scary," Miller says.

"I was never scared making it."

But she does get to have fun hamming it up as her character, Samantha, becomes more demonstrative as the pregnancy progresses.

"Someone was telling me they were watching a documentary about the making of The Shining, and there was this really intense scary scene and they yell cut, and Jack Nicholson just starts giggling," Miller says.

"That's exactly what it feels like: This is so ridiculous. I'm totally believing it and invested in it while it's happening, but then, when it's done, I'm like, 'I just screamed like an eight-year-old kid'."

The film's plot has been widely discussed as being similar to the 1968 horror classic Rosemary's Baby.

"I love Rosemary's Baby," Miller says. "We talked about it a lot during the shooting because there are a lot of components that are very similar. I didn't want to watch it while we were shooting because I didn't want to wind up imitating anything, and I knew I could never live up to Mia Farrow's performance."

Miller says there are stark differences from Rosemary's Baby and says that "it's not a remake, more like an homage."

It is also a different type of project for Miller, whose credits include the 2011 Fox television series Terra Nova, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg but cancelled after one season.

Though she is busy in California, Miller goes back to her hometown in Kentucky to see her family.

She got married in the summer of 2012.

Devil's Due is her debut as a leading actress in a feature film, although she was also the lead in the indie There's Always Woodstock, which has started to be submitted to the festival circuit.

During a Wednesday afternoon interview, Miller says she was scheduled to see the completed Devil's Due that night.

"We'll see," she says, "we'll see if I scare myself." – Lexington Herald-Leader/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Devil's Due is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.

Kenneth Branagh strives to be picture perfect

Posted: 22 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Kenneth Branagh not only stars in action movies, but is directing them, too.

Some Kenneth Branagh fans are still recovering from the shock of finding out that their beloved Shakespearean actor was responsible for Thor, the 2011 movie based on the hammer-wielding Marvel comics superhero. But those who recognise the 53-year-old Irishman in the new spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, where he plays the villain, are in for another surprise when the credits roll: he directed this big action flick, too.

Speaking to reporters at the Montage Hotel in Los Angeles recently, Branagh staunchly defended what has become something of a pet thesis for the actor-director ever since he began doing more mainstream commercial fare, even though he remains best known for his film adaptations of the Bard.

"I haven't really quite accepted that there's any particular divide or barrier between so-called high culture and low culture," he says. "There's only good culture, whatever that is. So whatever the genre is, there are good and bad examples of all kinds."

Thus, he does not distinguish between a film such as Henry V, which he adapted, directed and starred in to a great reception in Hollywood in 1989, and his latest effort, inspired by Tom Clancy's novels about the reluctant spy Jack Ryan. This, despite the fact that his forte has been dialogue-driven dramas in television, theatre and film, the latter including such movies as Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and As You Like It (2006).

In fact, Branagh can draw a line directly from Henry V to Jack Ryan, which also stars Chris Pine and Keira Knightley and features numerous and complex action sequences.

"Certainly, trying to explore it cinematically and make it as interesting and original as possible, that was all new. But, at the same time, I feel as if I started as an action director. Because although Henry V was full of dialogue, actually, you end up with the Battle of Agincourt.

"And I remember one autumn day in October 1988 with Vic Armstrong – the legendary second-unit director who worked on Jack Ryan and Henry V. He and I were standing there going, 'How do we make all these guys firing arrows look interesting, how do we do the French outnumbering the English?'

"And 25 years later, we're on a highway in New York saying, 'So, Jack's on a motorcycle, he has to save the world, how do we make that interesting?'

"So in a bizarre way, action's run right through my career, but often mixed up with a lot of words. Which leads me to believe that action and words can co-exist."

For Branagh, more important than a movie's genre or approach is whether it is well-executed.

"If it's a broad comedy, it's either good or it isn't. When the good ones are good, they're fantastic and take your breath away. I also admire artistry, skill and technique. And when things appear to be effortless."

He cites the work ethic of legendary ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov as an example. Baryshnikov has a supporting role in Jack Ryan and two small scenes with Branagh's character, yet wanted to rehearse "more than any actor I've ever come across" in order to make everything look effortless and natural.

And that perfectionism "can apply anywhere – it doesn't matter whether you're making Dumb And Dumber 3 or King Lear. To do something well requires concentration and focus, and it can be valuable and rewarding and entertaining".

"The idea that one dismisses something because it's low brow and common, or high brow and too pretentious, need not be the case."

Branagh was drawn to Jack Ryan because of a childhood fascination with classic political and action thrillers from the 1970s.

"When I started going to the pictures properly, I was watching films such as Three Days Of The Condor, The French Connection, The Parallax View and All The President's Men.

"So the conspiracy, paranoia, thriller element of (Jack Ryan) – the idea of making a film where there's a secret drop in a cinema, where two men meet on a bench at night in Moscow, where there's a threat to the world's security at the end – was all that I was excited to do.

"And I think, sometimes if you're lucky, you often end up working on films that made a profound impression on you as a kid. All the things that stamped themselves in your memory from about seven to 17 are the ones that come back to you, I think." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Related story:

The many faces of Jack Ryan

The many faces of Jack Ryan

Posted: 22 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Like James Bond and Batman, the character Jack Ryan has been played by more than one actor.

He sprang from the imagination of author Tom Clancy and started on the screen as Alec Baldwin, aged into Harrison Ford and did a Benjamin Button act and peeled away the years with Ben Affleck.

Now, Chris Pine – who knows a little something about two or more performers playing the same signature role thanks to his inheritance of Captain Kirk and Star Trek – is taking over in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

It's an origins story, introducing the character as a student at the London School of Economics who is motivated to join the American military by the 9/11 attacks. He is severely injured in Afghanistan, struggles to regain his health and lands a desk job on Wall Street that's a cover for the CIA.

When sent to Moscow to investigate some suspicious financial data, he faces mortal danger to himself and his fiancee (Keira Knightley) in the film featuring Kevin Costner as Ryan's mentor and director Kenneth Branagh as a Russian villain, complete with accent and a penchant for vodka.

Here's a look at the other Jack Ryans of yore:

The Hunt For Red October (1990)

The story: Moscow, Washington and a low-level CIA analyst named Jack Ryan track a renegade Soviet captain (Sean Connery), commanding the most sophisticated sub on the planet. Is he planning to defect to the United States or obliterate it?

Jack Ryan: Alec Baldwin (pic), 31 years old at the time.

Oscar love: Won for sound effects editing, and also nominated for film editing and sound.

Bonus fact: President Ronald Reagan received this book as a Christmas gift and quipped at a dinner that he was losing sleep because he couldn't put it down, an endorsement that boosted the novel to The New York Times best-seller list.

Patriot Games (1992)

The story: Jack Ryan, now an ex-CIA analyst, finds himself and his family targets of an extremist offshoot of the IRA, seeking vengeance for a thwarted assassination plot in London.

Jack Ryan: Harrison Ford (pic), then age 49.

Oscar love: None.

Bonus fact: When Paramount delayed shooting, Baldwin was forced to choose between this thriller and playing Stanley Kowalski in a Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. He opted for the stage and earned a Tony nomination while Ford scored a deal to play Ryan in three movies but would do only two.

Clear And Present Danger (1994)

The story: CIA agent Jack Ryan investigates the murder of a US president's friend, a businessman with secret ties to Colombian drug cartels.

Jack Ryan: Ford, 52 at time of release.

Oscar love: Nominated for sound and sound effects editing.

Bonus fact: Highest grossing, to date, of the Clancy adaptations and the one that forced peace between the author – who thought Ford too old and also didn't like the way Hollywood tampered with his plots – and Paramount.

The Sum Of All Fears (2002)

The story: A terrorist group tries to ratchet up tensions between America and Russia while it smuggles a nuclear weapon into the US that it plans to detonate at the Super Bowl in Baltimore. Jack Ryan and his CIA colleagues, led by the director (Morgan Freeman), must figure out what's going on and try to stop the unthinkable from happening.

Jack Ryan: Ben Affleck, 29 years old.

Oscar love: None.

Bonus fact: Director Phil Alden Robinson had finished his first cut of the film before Sept 11, 2001, and said he didn't have to make any changes in reaction to the attack. He told the Post Gazette he tried to make "an anti-war, anti-violence movie", one in which the proper response to terrorism is "that you don't rush headlong into violence. You get the facts." — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Related story:

Kenneth Branagh strives to be picture perfect

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved