Selasa, 1 April 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


Nepalese man jailed for cheating in casinos

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A NEPALESE man who visited the two casinos here and marked playing cards to increase his chances of winning was sentenced to five months in prison.

Limbu Aadarsh, who is here on a social visit pass, used the "card daubing" technique on high value cards so he would know which ones to bet on when playing games such as poker and blackjack.

The 30-year-old applied coloured powdery substances to the back of playing cards when he got the chance to handle them.

This was done either by hand, or using modified cash chips that would deliver the substances.

In this manner, Aadarsh managed to win more than S$6,000 (RM15,549) from the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa casinos between last November and March this year.

But the ploy was discovered after he used a modified chip in a losing bet and a croupier noticed the irregularities on it.

A raid of his hotel room turned up numerous items used in the scheme, such as bottles of greenish and greyish powdery substance, tape, needles, playing cards and instruction books.

Aadarsh yesterday admitted to one charge of possessing a device that facilitates cheating, and four charges of using an item for the same purpose.

Nine other counts of the latter were also taken into consideration.

Urging the court to impose various jail terms for each of the five charges, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ailene Chou said he had not acted opportunistically.

The DPP said he had gathered the items, some of them from overseas, and "methodically" proceeded to cheat while gambling.

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong agreed, noting Aadarsh needed to get various raw materials to hatch the plan. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Man jailed for uploading nude photos of his ex

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A 52-YEAR-OLD man who uploaded six nude photographs of his former girlfriend to social networking site QQ was sentenced to six weeks in jail.

Eng Eik Khoon, who is twice the age of the 26-year-old woman, had taken the pictures of her while she was sleeping in June last year. A month later, they broke up.

Wanting to embarrass her, he posted the photographs to two different QQ accounts in November.

A search of Eng's mobile phone also turned up a screenshot of a video of the couple having sex in 2012.

He had also sent her text messages threatening to reveal their relationship to others if she refused to see him again.

Eng pleaded guilty to three charges, with another two taken into consideration. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Australia's top court recognises 'neutral' third gender

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:44 PM PDT

SYDNEY: Australia's highest court on Wednesday recognised the existence of a third "non-specific" gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark ruling campaigners said will help end years of discrimination.

The High Court ruled that not everyone should be forced to identify as a man or woman when dealing with officials, saying some people could legitimately describe themselves as gender neutral.

"The High Court... recognises that a person may be neither male nor female, and so permits the registration of a person's sex as 'non?specific'," it said in a unanimous judgement.

The decision ended a long legal battle by sexual equality campaigner Norrie to overturn a New South Wales state edict that gender is an inherently "binary" concept involving only men or women.

"I'm overjoyed," the Sydney-based activist said. "It's been a long time from start to end but this has been a great outcome.

"Maybe people will understand now that there's more options than just the binary. So while an individual might be male or female, not all their friends might be and maybe they might be more accepting of that."

The 53-year-old, who uses only a single name, was born male and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1989 to become a woman.

But the surgery failed to resolve the Scottish-born activist's ambiguity about sexual identity, prompting a push for the recognition of a new, non-traditional gender.

Norrie made global headlines in February 2010 when an application to the NSW Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages accepted that "sex non-specific" could be accepted for Norrie's records.

But soon afterwards the office revoked its decision, saying the certificate was invalid and had been issued in error. At the time, Norrie said the decision felt like being "socially assassinated".

That sparked a series of appeals which resulted in the NSW Court of Appeal recognising Norrie as gender neutral last year, a decision which the High Court backed on Wednesday. 

'Outdated notions of gender'

The Human Rights Law Centre, which provided expert testimony in Norrie's case, said the court had "rejected outdated notions of gender" in the decision.

"Sex- and gender-diverse people face problems every day accessing services and facilities that most Australians can use without thinking twice," the centre's litigation expert Anna Brown said.

"It's essential that our legal systems accurately reflect and accommodate the reality of sex and gender diversity that exists in our society. The High Court has taken an enormous leap today in achieving that goal."

Brown said the decision did not mean people could simply identify themselves as "non-specific" and expect legal recognition.

Under the law, only a person who had undergone gender reassignment surgery could nominate themselves as "non-specific" after presenting medical evidence to back up their claims, she said.

Brown added that it remains unclear who gender-neutral people would be able to marry.

"No one has actually looked at that question legally," she said, adding that there were few international precedents for the decision.

In most states across Australia same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships, but the government does not consider them married under national law.

Germany last year passed a law allowing babies born with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female.

Several countries including Australia, Germany and Nepal also allow people to have an X on their passport rather than male or female, while social media giant Facebook recently moved to allow users to choose "other" gender options, such as "transsexual", "intersex" or "androgynous".

Activist group Gender Agenda said the court decision's impact went far beyond the legal system.

"Transgender, gender diverse and intersex people face high levels of stigma, social exclusion and discrimination," group director Samuel Rutherford said.

"To have the highest court in our land say the law recognises the reality of our existence is not only important in a practical way, but paves the way for achieving equality and freedom from discrimination." -AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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Chile mines dodge quake harm, but Collahuasi workers evacuated

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:41 PM PDT

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Mines in world No. 1 copper producer Chile appear to have emerged unscathed from a major quake that struck near the mineral-rich north of the Andean country on Tuesday.

Most mines in quake-prone Chile, which supplies around a third of the world's copper, are designed to withstand tremors.

The Collahuasi copper mine and port did not report any damage, but some workers were evacuated to be with their families following the 8.2-magnitude earthquake.

"We facilitated the descent of people who wanted to be with their families," mine Chief Executive Officer Jorge Gomez told Reuters in an email. The mine is perched high in mountains.

"The port's operations are completely halted because we had to evacuate everyone, as per the authorities' orders."

A joint venture led by Anglo American and Glencore Xstrata, Collahuasi was one of the big mines closest to the epicentre.

State copper miner Codelco and London-listed Antofagasta both said their mines were functioning normally. Teck Resources said its Quebrada Blanca mine was also fine.

World No.1 copper producer Codelco said it had evacuated workers from its Ventanas smelting and refinery operation due to a government-ordered tsunami evacuation order.

It was unclear whether Chile's ports might be damaged, which would harm metal shipments.

"I would expect the largest danger is to infrastructure, namely ports and roads, which could obviously affect exports," said Morgan Stanley analyst Joel Crane in Melbourne.

Benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) copper prices rose to the highest in three weeks after the quake.

But traders said further gains were likely to be dampened by ample supply and slow demand in China.

(Additional reporting by Felipe Iturrieta and Melanie Burton; Editing by Eric Walsh, Michael Urquhart and Joseph Radford)

Hawaii under tsunami advisory due to earthquake off Chile

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:40 PM PDT

(Reuters) - A tsunami advisory has been issued for Hawaii due to a magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck on Tuesday off the coast of Chile, but no major damage is expected, U.S. officials said.

"Based on all available data, a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of Hawaii," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement.

"However, sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbours and marinas."

The initial wave from the earthquake off the coast of Chile is expected to reach Hawaii at 3:24 a.m. (9:24 a.m. ET/1324 GMT) local time on Wednesday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Chile says five dead following 8.2 magnitude quake

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:35 PM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said five people had died following a massive 8.2 quake that struck the north of the Andean country on Tuesday.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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Norman Reedus lined up for heist movie 'Triple Nine'

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 06:05 PM PDT

Known for playing Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus has been announced as the latest big name to join the cast of Triple Nine.

In the director's chair is Aussie helmer John Hillcoat of The Road and The Proposition.

Surrounding him are the likes of Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious), Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Teresa Palmer (2:37), Aaron Paul and Kate Winslet.

Such a cast is needed for a film that revolves around a conspiratorial bank robbery, conceived by Russian gangsters and executed by crooked cops.

Things soon start to unravel when a green police officer, set up as the mark in a deadly ambush, escapes his fate. Before long, everything descends into a chaos of broken alliances.

Triple Nine is due for general release in 2015. – AFP Relaxnews

In The Dark: Spooky events during filming

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The director and cast of In The Dark had to face their fears while filming the movie.

IF you're afraid of ghosts, then maybe the best way to conquer your fears is by making a supernatural flick.

After a six-year hiatus from the movie scene, critically-acclaimed Malaysian director Yeo Joon Han decided to try his hand at the horror genre, and made Mandarin-language spine-chiller titled In The Dark, which explores how people deal with the death of their loved ones and having the deceased return to haunt them.

During a recent press conference to promote the movie, Yeo, together with his lead actors Wang Po-Chieh and Candy Lee, revealed how they had to cast their own fears aside and plunge head-long into the paranormal project.

Yeo explained how he made sure that he doesn't get any "unwanted visitors" while filming the movie. "Some people believe that one shouldn't take corner rooms or end-lots or even rooms next to the lift. So, I took extra care to ensure that they didn't allocate me a room like that," he explained. "Wang Po-Chieh, on the other hand, had no such concerns. All he wanted was a quiet place, so he was happy to take the end-suite."

"Nobody told me anything as they didn't want to scare me unnecessarily. In fact, I stayed there happily for two whole months and didn't experience anything out of the ordinary," said 24-year-old Wang who already has 17 film credits to his name including Teddy Chan's Bodyguards And Assassins (2009) and Ang Lee's Life Of Pi (2012). Wang burst onto the scene in 2008 when he was named Best New Talent at the 2008 Taipei Film Festival for coming-of-age Taiwanese flick Winds Of September, which won for Best Film at the Asian New Talent Awards of the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

Sharing a suite with his Taiwanese assistant, Wang recalled how they had two separate rooms which led to a common living area. "An amulet was set on table for protection, but the cleaner had unknowingly removed it while dusting the area. That same night, my suite-mate heard voices coming from my room and assumed that I had invited some friends over. But I wasn't even in the room that night! It was getting late so I had stayed over at a friend's place instead. When he learnt about it the next day, he quickly retrieved the amulet and put it back on the table. After that, everything was peaceful again," said Wang, who portrays a young man who tries to "communicate" with his dead lover.

Sexy starlet Lee, who plays a piano teacher haunted by a former student, also had some brushes with the otherworldly. In fact, she probably had the scariest experience while on set.

"When I was filming the movie, I started to suffer from frequent nightmares. There were ghosts invading my dreams, and I only realised much later that they were asking me to help them. In the end, I had to seek help from a psychic medium to put an end to it," she said.

Yeo admitted that he was initially taken aback by the response from viewers during earlier screenings of the movie.

"I was already very nervous to begin with. So, when I heard the audience breaking into laughter, I started to get a bit worried. Then, I realized that I had actually written in some comedic material. So, that was a huge relief for me," shared Yeo, whose English-language debut comedy film Sell Out! (2008) did not do well at the local box office, despite winning the Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision at the 2008 Venice Film Festival 2008 and the NETPAC Award at the Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival.

After making it through a scary movie for his first Mandarin-language effort, director Yeo says he is now keen to return to his comedy roots for future projects, declaring: "I prefer to make people laugh!"

In The Dark is now haunting local cinemas nationwide.

Samuel L. Jackson takes things in his stride

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 12:35 AM PDT

In an interview with the actor in Beijing, China, Jackson talks candidly about playing his bigger-than-life Marvel character, Nick Fury.

Samuel L. Jackson, 66, has played the mysterious character Nick Fury in six Marvel movies now but he is far from being bored of it all. In fact, he is ready to get back to work and start shooting the highly anticipated Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which is slated for a release next year.

Jackson had a chat with reporters earlier this week in Beijing, China, where he and cast mates Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, as well as directors Joe and Anthony Russo, promoted their latest film together, Captain America: The Winter Soldier

How would you describe Nick Fury?

Nick Fury is a master manipulator, that's what he does. He's an ordinary guy inside of this spectacular world, who seems to have a way of making extraordinary people bend to his will. Most times that involves him telling some lies.

Like he says (in the movie), he compartmentalises everything, so he goes 'you do that, they do that, I know how to hold puzzle pieces together; you just do your part.' It's fun for me to be able to do those things.

How do you think he has evolved throughout the years in all the different Marvel movies he's appeared in?

He didn't evolve so much as they've given him more to do, really. He's always been 'that guy'. In Iron Man, he shows up and goes, 'you're Iron Man I want you to be part of the Avengers Initiative.'

In Iron Man 2, he says, 'I'm not so sure we want you to be part of this anymore. You're a little reckless.'

In Thor, well he's finding out about the Tesseract and all these other things and in Captain America, there he is waking this guy up saying, 'we want you to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D, I know you don't know what that is, but you will!'

Then all of a sudden in Avengers, he's got them all together and he's trying to get the Avengers Initiative going so there he is manipulating everyone again. telling lies here and there.

And now (in The Winter Soldier), we actually find him at work, being Nick Fury. He's coming in to work at S.H.I.E.L.D, that's where Captain America works, where Black Widow works and a few other people we all know about. You see his boss (Alexander Pierce, played by Robert Redford) and everyone else. So as much as this is a Captain America movie, this is also a S.H.I.E.L.D movie.

Did you ever ask Marvel why it took them so long to show this side of Nick Fury?

I don't ask them anything, I just don't want them to kill me! Actors get very quiet when things start to happen (in movie franchises) because they don't want their characters to die. It's the same thing I used to do on Star Wars (where he played Mace Windu in three films) – I just show up and keep quiet.

Do you see a bit of yourself in Nick Fury?

Well, he's tall, I'm tall. He's black, I'm black... he's brave, I'm not. He's losing weight, I am too, thank you.

Every character has a little bit of you, in some way or another. You have to play them in a way that makes sense and is honest to you. I'm a bit cynical and a bit suspicious of everybody like he is, although I am not as mistrustful of people as he is.

Is it hard to act with an eye patch?

You only need one eye to act. One eye, one leg, one arm... I didn't discover – until Nick Fury had more stuff to say – that you literally have to learn your lines with one eye closed because your mind processes the information differently with two eyes than one. If you learn your lines with two eyes and then you have to close one eye to act, half the page disappears. I'm serious!

What's it like acting with pretty much the same people in so many films?

We like each other. We spend a lot of time together in different places, we're not just together on set but we go out together, eat together, we hang out – we enjoy each other's company. And it's great to get back in the saddle and hang out even more.

A lot of times, like in this movie, you know, we're the kids who run the playground. The Russo brothers are the new kids on the block. They come in and we have our costumes on and we're all looking at them and they've got to convince us that we want to play with them.

So who's Robert Redford in this 'playground', then?

Robert Redford's this old dude...

Robert Redford is a guy who lends his credibility in a way to this movie, you know what I mean? I respect him. I followed his movies before I got to Hollywood and I am impressed by the work that he did, and still does. That worked greatly for me when we were doing our scenes together – he was my boss and Nick kind of looked up to him and they used to do all these things together.

And (as an actor) he was great, he came in and fell right into the groove. Scarlett knew him too because she worked with him when she was just a kid on the Horse Whisperer.

>> Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now playing in cinemas nationwide.

Related story: 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals human vulnerabilities of a superhero

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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Win the heart of Prince Harry

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Fox network has approached a dozen women with an opportunity to fulfil their childhood dream of becoming a princess. In the reality series I Wanna Marry Harry, the happy few will set out to win the heart of one of the world's most famous celebrities, Prince Harry. Or so they think.

Scheduled to premiere on May 27 in the United States, the show will follow 12 American women who are flown to Britain to join his royal highness in a majestic castle in Englefield, Berkshire. Over the course of several weeks, the contestants will try to get to know the real Harry, seduce him and, if possible, convince him to walk down the aisle.

At any rate, this is the story Fox told the young women when they boarded the show, which was filmed last summer – in the utmost secrecy – under the working title Dream Date.

In reality, the contestants will meet Matthew Hicks, a Prince Harry lookalike.

Only at the very end of the series will the young women learn the truth. The setup calls to mind that of Joe Millionaire, in which participants competed for the affection of an ordinary blue-collar guy they were told was a multi-millionaire.

Aired in 2003, the finale of the reality show was watched by 34.6 million viewers. Will Fox be able to pull of the same feat over a decade later? – AFP Relaxnews

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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Norman Reedus lined up for heist movie 'Triple Nine'

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 06:05 PM PDT

Known for playing Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus has been announced as the latest big name to join the cast of Triple Nine.

In the director's chair is Aussie helmer John Hillcoat of The Road and The Proposition.

Surrounding him are the likes of Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious), Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Teresa Palmer (2:37), Aaron Paul and Kate Winslet.

Such a cast is needed for a film that revolves around a conspiratorial bank robbery, conceived by Russian gangsters and executed by crooked cops.

Things soon start to unravel when a green police officer, set up as the mark in a deadly ambush, escapes his fate. Before long, everything descends into a chaos of broken alliances.

Triple Nine is due for general release in 2015. – AFP Relaxnews

In The Dark: Spooky events during filming

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The director and cast of In The Dark had to face their fears while filming the movie.

IF you're afraid of ghosts, then maybe the best way to conquer your fears is by making a supernatural flick.

After a six-year hiatus from the movie scene, critically-acclaimed Malaysian director Yeo Joon Han decided to try his hand at the horror genre, and made Mandarin-language spine-chiller titled In The Dark, which explores how people deal with the death of their loved ones and having the deceased return to haunt them.

During a recent press conference to promote the movie, Yeo, together with his lead actors Wang Po-Chieh and Candy Lee, revealed how they had to cast their own fears aside and plunge head-long into the paranormal project.

Yeo explained how he made sure that he doesn't get any "unwanted visitors" while filming the movie. "Some people believe that one shouldn't take corner rooms or end-lots or even rooms next to the lift. So, I took extra care to ensure that they didn't allocate me a room like that," he explained. "Wang Po-Chieh, on the other hand, had no such concerns. All he wanted was a quiet place, so he was happy to take the end-suite."

"Nobody told me anything as they didn't want to scare me unnecessarily. In fact, I stayed there happily for two whole months and didn't experience anything out of the ordinary," said 24-year-old Wang who already has 17 film credits to his name including Teddy Chan's Bodyguards And Assassins (2009) and Ang Lee's Life Of Pi (2012). Wang burst onto the scene in 2008 when he was named Best New Talent at the 2008 Taipei Film Festival for coming-of-age Taiwanese flick Winds Of September, which won for Best Film at the Asian New Talent Awards of the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

Sharing a suite with his Taiwanese assistant, Wang recalled how they had two separate rooms which led to a common living area. "An amulet was set on table for protection, but the cleaner had unknowingly removed it while dusting the area. That same night, my suite-mate heard voices coming from my room and assumed that I had invited some friends over. But I wasn't even in the room that night! It was getting late so I had stayed over at a friend's place instead. When he learnt about it the next day, he quickly retrieved the amulet and put it back on the table. After that, everything was peaceful again," said Wang, who portrays a young man who tries to "communicate" with his dead lover.

Sexy starlet Lee, who plays a piano teacher haunted by a former student, also had some brushes with the otherworldly. In fact, she probably had the scariest experience while on set.

"When I was filming the movie, I started to suffer from frequent nightmares. There were ghosts invading my dreams, and I only realised much later that they were asking me to help them. In the end, I had to seek help from a psychic medium to put an end to it," she said.

Yeo admitted that he was initially taken aback by the response from viewers during earlier screenings of the movie.

"I was already very nervous to begin with. So, when I heard the audience breaking into laughter, I started to get a bit worried. Then, I realized that I had actually written in some comedic material. So, that was a huge relief for me," shared Yeo, whose English-language debut comedy film Sell Out! (2008) did not do well at the local box office, despite winning the Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision at the 2008 Venice Film Festival 2008 and the NETPAC Award at the Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival.

After making it through a scary movie for his first Mandarin-language effort, director Yeo says he is now keen to return to his comedy roots for future projects, declaring: "I prefer to make people laugh!"

In The Dark is now haunting local cinemas nationwide.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Bumi Armada forecast stays despite Angola oilfield project

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

BUMI ARMADA BHD

By HwangDBS Vickers Research

Buy

Target Price: RM4.50

HWANGDBS Vickers Research said it had not revised its forecasts for now, following Bumi Armada's announcement that it has received a letter of intent (LoI) from Italian oil major Eni SpA for a deepwater oilfield offshore Angola,

It said the Angola floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) project was likely to be classified as a finance lease, which would mean lower profit contribution over the conversion period of 31 months.

The FPSO job is for the chartering, operation and maintenance of a FPSO for deployment at Block 15/06, East Hub offshore Angola for an indicative value of US$2.9bil (RM9.5bil).

It said the final contract was likely to be for a 12-year period with eight one-year extension options, implying US$660,000 (RM2.15mil) daily charter rate. This will lift Bumi Armada's order book by 72% to RM22.7bil.

The total capital expenditure required is estimated at US$1.5bil, which could lift Bumi Armada's net gearing to 1.6 times by financial year 2016 (FY16), still lower than management's threshold of 2 times, it added.

The research house noted Bumi Armada's strong execution track record in the FPSO business which would suggest more contracts in the pipeline with its 10 ongoing FPSO tenders, especially the 10-year Madura FPSO job in Indonesia, of which the group was a clear frontrunner.

HwangDBS said valuation remains undemanding at 17 times FY14 price-earnings ratio, the lowest since its initial public offering in July 2011.

It has maintained its Buy call on Bumi Armada with a target price of RM4.50 based on 20 times FY14 forecast earnings per share.

CAHYA MATA SARAWAK BHD

By RHB Research Institute

Buy (maintained)

Target Price: RM12.20

Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) has proposed a one-into-two share split followed by a two-for-one bonus share issue to raise the number of shares to 1,087 million.

According to RHB Research, this exercise is timely to improve the stock's liquidity as its average trading volume stood at barely 700,000 shares per day over the past six months.

On completion of the exercises, the share price will likely be adjusted to RM3.26 from the RM9.80 level, thus making it more affordable to retail investors, it added.

Meanwhile, the research house said CMS was set to benefit from attractive power tariffs under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy and the economic multiplier effects in other industries.

It also sees progress in its Malaysian Phosphate Additives Sdn Bhd project while there is potential upside to 51%-owned Samalaju Property Development Sdn Bhd.

StarBiz reported that CMS was looking at taking over state-controlled Sacofa Sdn Bhd, an infrastructure and multimedia service provider in the telecoms sector.

However, RHB said while this acquisition was likely to be value-accretive, it needed more information for further evaluation.

It reiterated a "buy" call on CMS and raised its fair value to RM12.20 from RM10.37 previously, as it rolled over its valuation to financial year 2015, raising the price-earnings ratio multiple for CMS construction material division to 12-times (from 10-times), and included discounted cash flow of OM Materials (Sarawak) for the first time.

ASTRO MALAYSIA HOLDINGS BHD

By Kenanga Research

Market Perform

Target Price: RM3.14

Kenanga Research said Astro's fourth quarter 2014 net profit of RM111.4mil, taking its financial year 2014 (FY14) net profit to RM448mil were within expectations.

It said post-result announcement, it had fine-tuned its FY15 net profit forecasts by +1% for house-keeping purposes.

The research house said it had maintained its conservative stance in view of the ongoing subsidy rationalisation plan that could slow down consumer spending, and therefore potentially translate into slower subscription rate and higher churn as well as sluggish IPTV subscription (the group had only garnered 10,000 subscribers with 26,000 in total since the launch of Maxis-Astro IPTV services).

It expects Astro's FY15 net profit to rebound by 35% driven by higher earnings before interest and tax margin assumption of 18.2% on the back of lower set-top box (STB) expenses given the lower STB swap-out.

The penetration of customers with B.yond STB is already at 84%, and Kenanga believes Astro is unlikely to push aggressively for conversion.

It maintained "market perform" call on Astro and marginally increased its target price to RM3.14 from RM3.10 based on a 10-year explicit discounted cash flow valuation with the following assumptions weighted average cost of capital of 8.9%, beta of 1.0, and terminal growth of 1%. The target price also implies a FY15 price earnings ratio of 26.6 times.

Another Japan nuclear operator turns to govt for aid

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:17 PM PDT

TOKYO: Japan's Kyushu Electric Power Co has become the second nuclear generator to seek state support this week as reactors across the country remain idle and industry losses mount three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kyushu Electric, a regional monopoly that supplies power in southern Japan, said on Wednesday it was in talks with state-owned Development Bank of Japan for financial backing.

On Tuesday, a source said Hokkaido Electric Power Co, which supplies Japan's northernmost island, had asked the same bank for financial assistance.

All of Japan's 48 nuclear reactors have been shut down, pending stringent safety checks, since a massive earthquake and 13-metre-high (43-feet-high) tsunami smashed into the Fukushima nuclear complex in March 2011, triggering a meltdown in the world's worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

With no schedule for nuclear restarts, utilities have been forced to burn expensive fossil fuels for power generation. They are set to report a third year of annual losses.

"We are in consultations with the Development Bank of Japan about receiving capital support, but since nothing has been decided I am unable to comment further," said Kyushu spokesman Yuki Hirano.

Kyushu Electric is asking the bank to buy 100 billion yen (US$965.5 million) of preferred stock in the company, a source said. The lender is considering the request, which was reported earlier by the Nikkei business newspaper.

If both Kyushu Electric and Hokkaido Electric get the aid, they would join the stricken Fukushima plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), in receiving government bailouts. Other nuclear operators may be forced to turn to the government, the Nikkei said on Tuesday.

In 2012, the government took a controlling stake in Tepco. The company still relies on constant taxpayer handouts to pay compensation to those affected by the nuclear disaster, which forced 160,000 people from their homes.

Shares in Kyushu Electric were down 4.6 percent in mid-morning trade, after falling as much as 6.5%, versus a 1.1% rise in the benchmark Nikkei 225.

Kyushu Electric has estimated a net loss of 125 billion yen for the year ended March 31.

Japanese banking practices make it difficult for lenders to extend credit, including refinancing existing loans, to companies that post three consecutive years of losses.

Six of nine regional monopolies that operate reactors in Japan have raised prices in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, while one, Chubu Electric Power Co, has a request to lift rates under review.

Price increases for residential customers must be approved by the government.

Japan's nuclear regulator has placed two of Kyushu Electric's reactors on a shortlist for a final round of safety checks, leading to speculation these units may be the first to be restarted.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is moving to revive nuclear power as a core part of Japan's energy mix, but many of those idled reactors will never be restarted. – Reuters 

Asian shares build on gains, yen hits 10-week trough

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:11 PM PDT

SYDNEY: Asian share markets added to their recent rally on Wednesday as investors chose to accentuate the positive in a mixed bag of global economic data, pressuring the safe haven yen to a 10-week trough.

Even sluggishness in China is now considered favourably since it adds to the case for stimulus, and there are signs Beijing is hastening infrastructure spending in response.

Trading was cautious, however, ahead of Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank and Friday's U.S. jobs numbers, both of which could move markets in major ways.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.3 percent to a fresh four-month high, while Australia's market added 0.2 percent.

The Nikkei outperformed thanks to the drop in the yen and climbed 1.3 percent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended Tuesday up 0.70 percent and just off a record intraday high. The Dow rose 0.46 percent, while the Nasdaq bounced 1.64 percent.

The U.S. economic news was generally supportive of risk appetite. The manufacturing ISM climbed to 53.7 in March, from 53.2, with production showing a marked expansion from weather-induced weakness in February.

Likewise, new vehicles sales rose to a surprisingly brisk 16.4 million annualised in March, ending three months of softness and supporting the view that demand is recovering now that the worst of the winter weather has passed.

The arrival of Spring is also why the market is wagering the U.S. payrolls report on Friday will show employment picked up to 200,000 in March.

The brighter tone in the data pressured the long-end of the U.S. Treasury curve, where yields on 10-year paper rose 2 basis points to the highest in a week at 2.77 percent.

Shorter-dated debt fared better in the wake of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comment that extraordinary stimulus would be needed for some time to come.

WILL THEY, WON'T THEY?

Investors have also been speculating that the European Central Bank would soon take further steps to loosen policy, though officials are blowing hot and cold on the issue.

On Tuesday, ECB vice-president Vitor Constancio told a news conference that low inflation was a concern and could drag on economic growth. Euro zone inflation slowed to an annual 0.5 percent in March, its lowest since November 2009.

But Constancio then went on to deny any risk of deflation, saying inflation was set to pick up. That was taken as diminishing the chance of an easing at the ECB's policy meeting on Thursday and gave the euro a modest lift.

A Reuters poll of 22 euro money market traders found 18 expected no change in the 0.25 percent main refinancing rate.

The single currency was steady at $1.3799, having edged up for a third straight session on Tuesday. It also gained on a broadly softer yen to reach 143.30, while the dollar scored a 10-week top at 103.86 yen.

Among commodities, Brent crude was quoted 16 cents lower at $105.46 a barrel having shed over 2 percent overnight on the possibility of a jump in supplies from Libya after rebels blocking eastern oil ports hinted at a deal with Tripoli.

U.S. crude was off 7 cents at $99.67 a barrel in early trade, after also losing around 2 percent to expectations for a build in domestic inventories.

Spot gold was sulking at $1,282.16 an ounce, having touched a seven-week low of $1,277.29 on Tuesday. - Reuters

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Man burnt to death in car accident

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: A driver was burnt to death after his car caught fire when it was hit by another car which lost control and swerved into his lane.

The Proton Wira driven by Liew Wei Liang (pic), 20, was split into two during the incident on Sunday.

Liew Wei Liang, 20, a cook from Masai

Liew, a cook who resides in Masai here, was on his way to the city centre via Permas at around 9.30pm when a woman driver who was in a Toyota Vios lost control of her car and swerved into the opposite lane. He couldn't stop in time and crashed into her car.

Johor Baru South OCPD Asst Comm Sulaiman Salleh said that Liew had died on the spot.

He said that the woman was sent to the Regency Specialist Hospital as she suffered from an injured back due to the impact, while Liew's body was sent to Hospital Sultan Ismail.

He added that the woman was detained by police at the hospital for investigations into the case.

On another matter, ACP Sulaiman said that the police are looking for a group in connection with the death of an 18-year-old welder in Taman Sentosa here.

"We believe that the victim was hit by a blunt object and tried to flee before falling into a drain along Jalan Songket.

"The victim's body has been sent to the Hospital Sultanah Aminah for a post-mortem and we are still looking for the suspects connected to the case," he said adding that the victim's body was discovered by the public at around 6am on March 30.

Those with information pertaining to the incident are urged to contact the Johor Police Hotline at 07-2212999 or visit the nearest police station.

GM: There is sufficient supply at main dams

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: The water capacity at the three main dams in the state is still sufficient and can last for at least another two months.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) general manager Jaseni Maidinsa said that as of yesterday, the Air Itam Dam was at 64.6% capacity, which was sufficient for 63 days, while the Teluk Bahang Dam was at 77% capacity and would be enough for 234 days.

PBAPP has also been diverting water from the Teluk Bahang Dam to the Air Itam water distribution network, while the Mengkuang Dam on the mainland is at 38.5% capacity which is sufficient for 64 days.

"However, we are looking at sustaining the water capacity of the dams for a longer term.

"It is better to wait for the Chief Minister to issue a statement after the state executive council meeting," he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is also PBAPP chairman.

In ALOR SETAR, the Kedah Government has put aside its plan to impose water rationing as the rainy season has started.

State Local Government, Water Supply, Water Resources, Energy, Housing and Human Capital Committee chairman Badrol Hisham Hashim said the heavy rain on Saturday was a good sign that the prolonged dry spell in the state was ending.

"The rain that night has increased the water level at our dams. We have an average of about 70% water in all our dams now, which is sufficient for domestic and agricultural usage for the next three months," he said yesterday.

Last week, water at the dams was at about 68%.

On March 14, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said the state government would seriously consider water rationing if there was no rain by the end of the month.

As for Perlis, the water level at the Timah Tasoh Dam is at 27.21m and has not reached the critical level, according to the Drainage and Irrigation Department website.

The normal level at the dam is 29.1m while the critical level is 25.3m. The maximum level at the dam is 30.1m.

Hisham refutes British tabloid report on Capt Zaharie

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein has refuted a report by British tabloid the Daily Mail regarding Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah's state of mind before flying the MH370.

Saying that the report was wrong, Hishammuddin said any information quoted in the report was not released by Malaysian police.

"I can confirm that it did not come from the police," he said at a press conference on MH370 yesterday.

In a report on Sunday, the tabloid quoted a "source close to the pilot's family" saying Capt Zaharie was in emotional turmoil over the break-up of his marriage. The daughter of Capt Zaharie has since said she would not forgive British tabloid the Daily Mail for "making up stories".

On requests for the transcript of the final communication from the cockpit of Flight MH370 he said: "You must be fair to us because only those doing the investigation can give us the ok. If there comes a time if this can be shared with the public, with their consent, I will."

He said the investigation team was not hiding anything and urged everyone to just let "the inquiries show what they show".

A DCA source described the communications between the aircraft and those on the ground as normal aviation talk.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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In The Dark: Spooky events during filming

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The director and cast of In The Dark had to face their fears while filming the movie.

IF you're afraid of ghosts, then maybe the best way to conquer your fears is by making a supernatural flick.

After a six-year hiatus from the movie scene, critically-acclaimed Malaysian director Yeo Joon Han decided to try his hand at the horror genre, and made Mandarin-language spine-chiller titled In The Dark, which explores how people deal with the death of their loved ones and having the deceased return to haunt them.

During a recent press conference to promote the movie, Yeo, together with his lead actors Wang Po-Chieh and Candy Lee, revealed how they had to cast their own fears aside and plunge head-long into the paranormal project.

Yeo explained how he made sure that he doesn't get any "unwanted visitors" while filming the movie. "Some people believe that one shouldn't take corner rooms or end-lots or even rooms next to the lift. So, I took extra care to ensure that they didn't allocate me a room like that," he explained. "Wang Po-Chieh, on the other hand, had no such concerns. All he wanted was a quiet place, so he was happy to take the end-suite."

"Nobody told me anything as they didn't want to scare me unnecessarily. In fact, I stayed there happily for two whole months and didn't experience anything out of the ordinary," said 24-year-old Wang who already has 17 film credits to his name including Teddy Chan's Bodyguards And Assassins (2009) and Ang Lee's Life Of Pi (2012). Wang burst onto the scene in 2008 when he was named Best New Talent at the 2008 Taipei Film Festival for coming-of-age Taiwanese flick Winds Of September, which won for Best Film at the Asian New Talent Awards of the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

In The Dark director, Yeo Joon Han.

Sharing a suite with his Taiwanese assistant, Wang recalled how they had two separate rooms which led to a common living area. "An amulet was set on table for protection, but the cleaner had unknowingly removed it while dusting the area. That same night, my suite-mate heard voices coming from my room and assumed that I had invited some friends over. But I wasn't even in the room that night! It was getting late so I had stayed over at a friend's place instead. When he learnt about it the next day, he quickly retrieved the amulet and put it back on the table. After that, everything was peaceful again," said Wang, who portrays a young man who tries to "communicate" with his dead lover.

Sexy starlet Lee, who plays a piano teacher haunted by a former student, also had some brushes with the otherworldly. In fact, she probably had the scariest experience while on set.

"When I was filming the movie, I started to suffer from frequent nightmares. There were ghosts invading my dreams, and I only realised much later that they were asking me to help them. In the end, I had to seek help from a psychic medium to put an end to it," she said.

Yeo admitted that he was initially taken aback by the response from viewers during earlier screenings of the movie.

"I was already very nervous to begin with. So, when I heard the audience breaking into laughter, I started to get a bit worried. Then, I realized that I had actually written in some comedic material. So, that was a huge relief for me," shared Yeo, whose English-language debut comedy film Sell Out! (2008) did not do well at the local box office, despite winning the Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision at the 2008 Venice Film Festival 2008 and the NETPAC Award at the Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival.

After making it through a scary movie for his first Mandarin-language effort, director Yeo says he is now keen to return to his comedy roots for future projects, declaring: "I prefer to make people laugh!"

In The Dark is now haunting local cinemas nationwide.

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All-New Ghost Rider

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 04:00 PM PDT

NO, this is not an April's Fools Day joke – Ghost Rider really is driving a car instead of riding a bike now.

It's not just the number of wheels that are different this time, the creators of All-New Ghost Rider – writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore – have also cast a new man behind the flaming skull – instead of Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch, the new Spirit of Vengeance is now called Robbie Reyes.

And that's not all. Even the flaming skull looks different – instead of the usual well-defined human skull, this one looks more like a cross between a skull and an Imperial Stormtrooper.

Well, there goes the upholstery. The new Ghost Rider gets behind his new wheels for the first time.

Well, there goes the upholstery. The new Ghost Rider gets behind his new wheels for the first time.

This is clearly not the Ghost Rider we know. But still, if Smith and Moore can keep up the intensity that is prevalent in this first issue of All-New Ghost Rider, they just might have the last laugh.

Part of the slew of new #1 titles in the All-New Marvel Now relaunch, All-New Ghost Rider is a welcome return for the character, who hasn't had a solo title since a short-lived 10-issue run in 2011.

This first issue introduces us to our new protagonist Robbie Reyes, a teenager trying to raise his physically challenged younger brother in a rough, gang-ruled part of Los Angeles. Mechanic by day and street racer by night, Robbie dreams of giving his brother a better life, and the only way he can do that is by taking part in high-stakes street races.

All Robbie Reyes wants in life is to give his younger brother Gabe a better life.

All Robbie Reyes wants in life is to give his younger brother Gabe a better life.

Both Smith and Moore are relatively new to the Marvel Universe – the former is widely known as the first American writer to have his own serialised manga series in Japan (Peepo Choo), while this is Moore's first interior work for Marvel, having worked on Image Comics' Luther Strode saga in the past. The unique styles of this pair of relatively unknown creators is what makes All-New Ghost Rider work so well.

In building up Reyes as a character, Smith shows marvellous restraint, starting off by introducing us to his humdrum life in his gang-ridden neighbourhood and his dedication to his little brother, before switching gears to a thrilling night race that comes to a fiery end.

Here, Moore's manga-esque illustrations give a freshness and visceral vibrancy to All-New Ghost Rider, from the intense kinetic energy of the street racing scenes to the burst of flame that marks the arrival of a new Spirit of Vengeance.

It's not just the action scenes that stand out here though – in fact, the first lick of flame doesn't even show up until page 11, when Robbie decides to "borrow" a car he'd been working on to go for a street race (which obviously doesn't end well).

Unlike DC Comics' incessant recycling of the same old tropes for the New 52, Marvel seems to have taken the opposite route for All-New Marvel Now's new titles. Silver SurferShe-HulkMs Marvel, and now All-New Ghost Rider have one thing in common – each book features artists with very unique styles, and writers who are willing to take time to develop their characters instead of going straight for the punch from the get-go.

The all-new Ghost Rider finally gets his flame on.

Where DC's creators have to adhere to the rather rigid continuity of its universe, Marvel seems to be giving its creators free rein to do what they darn well please, resulting in a streak of inventiveness and originality that almost rivals the creator-owned stuff over at Image.

Sure, these are still the same old characters we've been reading about for decades now, but with books likeAll-New Ghost Rider, Marvel is showing that you can teach an old Spirit of Vengeance new tricks after all.

Single issues of All-New Ghost Rider and other All-New Marvel Now titles can be ordered from virtual comic store Earth 638 (e-mail: earth638@yahoo.com, tel: 012-663 1584, Facebook: facebook.com/earth638).

An American Bride In Kabul

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

"I once lived in a harem in Afghanistan."

The opening statement in feminist and author Phyllis Chesler's memoirs, An American Bride In Kabul, is arresting and blatantly blunt.

As the title states, Chesler was an American bride in the Afghan capital. The question most people reading this memoir would ask is: why would a Jewish woman from a modern and liberal society willingly decamp to a war-ravaged and ultra-conservative Muslim country? The answer Chesler provides is love. 

Chesler was 18 when she met her Afghan husband while they were both in university in New York City, in the late 1950s. She was quickly smitten by the Westernised Abdul-Kareem, a man who would be part of her mental, emotional and physical landscape for the next 50 years, despite their marriage not lasting longer than two years.

As Chesler points out, it is vital to recognise that Afghanistan in the 1960s was very different from the Afghanistan of today. Some 50-odd years ago, Afghanistan was a country at peace; fanatics had not foisted their brand of religion upon the population; the country was actually rather Westernised, with women and men clad in clothes that reflected the European and American fashion of the era. 

Chesler writes that Abdul-Kareem never told her about life in Afghanistan (Chesler only found out that her mother-in-law was one of three wives, and that Abdul-Kareem was one of 21 children after she landed on Afghan soil), and being young, na├»ve and in love, she followed her heart to where Abdul-Kareem wanted to go. Plus, by marrying a Muslim man, Chesler was, in her own way, conducting an act of rebellion against her upbringing. 

Armed with all these reasons, Chesler states that she got married to a man outside of both her faith and culture, and went to Afghanistan "on my own free will". 

Spanning some five decades, An American Bride In Kabul is broken into two sections: the first part focuses on Chesler's youth and time in Afghanistan, while the second part sees her back in America, encompassing the years post-9/11, 2001, to the present. 

The first half of the memoir is very personal, with Chesler sharing intimate and minute details of her life in Afghanistan. She does not shy away from describing the many fights she had with Abdul-Kareem, her battles with her mother-in-law, Bebegul, and her frustration about being unable to eat the local food, as it is cooked in ghee which does not agree with Chesler's delicate stomach. Chesler also adds in parts of her diary entries from this time.

In addition to the food issue, Chesler finds that she is imprisoned against her will. Unable to comprehend the rationale, Chesler is puzzled why she is unable to move about on her own, and she is constantly being watched by her immediate in-laws and the extended family (second and third wives, and their respective offspring) and the numerous servants that run the compound.

Though it becomes apparent that life is not living up to Chesler's expectations, there are moments of genuine hilarity in her struggle to fit in with her Afghan family. For instance, Chesler tries to communicate with Bebegul with the little Dari, Pashtun and German that she knows, and in turn Bebegul tries to talk to her American daughter-in-law with the limited English and German that she is able to muster, and the two of them get by with a whole lot of smiling and charades.

It is in this section of the book that Chesler injects references and quotes from women explorers who came to Afghanistan in the early 20th century, as well as Western women who married Muslim men and lived happy lives in the Middle East. By adding these references and quotes into her memoir, one gets the impression that Chesler is not only trying to justify her decision to go to Afghanistan for love, but that she is also trying to decipher why her marriage to Abdul-Kareem and her relationship with her in-laws, particularly Bebegul, failed.

The second half of the memoir is much less personal, as it centres more on Chesler's development as a feminist and outspoken critic, particularly in the treatment of women in Muslim cultures. 

Readers also get a glimpse into Chesler's mind, as she tries to make sense of the world and women's place in the world.

Chesler also devotes entire chapters to her Afghan family coming and living in America, and her reactions towards the Sept 11 terror attacks of 2001. It is in this chapter that Chesler's passion for Afghanistan shines through. She clarifies, through her own understanding, the mindless fear and hatred expressed by the West towards all Muslims post-9/11.  

By balancing her arguments about Afghans (and Muslims in general) living in the West (in particular, America), the treatment of women, and the age-old debate of Islam-versus-infidels, An American Bride In Kabul reads less like a memoir and more like a thesis, especially with all the references to other books Chesler throws in.

While she tries to be as objective as possible, it is hard to ignore the fact that there are times in her memoir that Chesler's own cultural and feminist biases come into play, sending her arguments slightly askew. 

Though the title refers to a singular American bride living in Afghanistan, An American Bride In Kabul goes far beyond Chesler's personal experiences; it encompasses women worldwide, giving those without a voice a chance to be heard. 

While it comes across as very academic (particularly the second half), the book is, nevertheless, an engaging and well-written memoir that is both emotional and sends a powerful message.

Maybe One Day

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Every time I bury my nose in a book, it is as if I'm inviting someone to ask me the 5W1H questions: Where did I find the book? Why did I pick up the book? When did I pick up the book? 

Honestly, can't a girl just pick up a book without explaining herself to the entire human race? 

And so, with this I-just-want-to-be-left-alone expression clearly plastered on my face, I usually find myself answering those questions in a maximum of five words per sentence. Yes, without even bothering to look up at the person asking the questions. 

But this book deserves more than that. It deserves a page-long explanation about why I picked it up, but more importantly, why everyone should read it.

Reason one: This book has characters you can relate to, right down to their names. I know you know an Olivia. Or you know someone who knows someone who is an Olivia. Come on, one of my best friends is named Olivia! 

Not good enough? OK. There's also a Zoe, a Jake, a Calvin and a Stacy. Names make you relate to someone you know, however different the person may be from the character. And these names are common names, unlike some authors who choose to use exotic, alien-like, I-cannot-even-pronounce-them names. 

Coming back to the point, the characters are not only relatable, they are well-developed. 

First of all, there's Zoe, the teenager who got cut from the New York City Ballet along with her best friend, Olivia, aka Livvie. Their worlds revolve around dance and each other, and being cut dealt them a big blow. But they deal. 

Livvie, the nicer, more mature one, takes it in stride and even continues to teach dance classes, while Zoe tries putting the past behind her. 

From the beginning, it is clear that Livvie is Zoe's pillar – supportive, maternal and warm. Zoe is a sarcastic brat who, personally, got on my nerves a few times by being rude to everyone around her – and worst of all, it is all done in the name of "My best friend has cancer".

Then there are the parents. Zoe's parents are extremely understanding, patient and compassionate; at the same time, they know where to draw the line when their daughter starts lashing out at everyone because she's upset about Olivia's illness. I particularly appreciate this one chastising line Zoe's mother says: "Olivia's illness is a tragedy, Zoe, don't make it into a petty excuse." You go, mum! 

Reason two: Cancer. I remember when I came across this comic strip that said, "If you have a headache and Googled the symptoms, you'll find out you have cancer". 

As light-hearted as the statement may seem, most of us know first-hand what it is like to hear when someone you love, or know, is diagnosed with the dreaded Big C.

You will share Olivia's journey and frustrations as a cancer patient – the hospital visits, painful chemotherapy sessions, the time when she realises chunks of hair are falling out and the sickening horror when she has to come to terms with what might be a relapse. 

You will also share the roller coaster of Zoe's ups and downs. Yes, she is by turns selfish, grumpy and harsh to everyone around her, yet I couldn't help but admire her selflessness when it came to Livvie. 

She takes over teaching Livvie's dance classes even though it becomes a burning reminder of how she'd be cut from the New York City Ballet. She tries to be nice to Livvie's cheerleader friends, who are, frankly, annoying to the bone. And she organises a smashing birthday celebration for Livvie. If all this doesn't scream true friendship to you, I don't know what would ... which leads me to my next reason.

Reason three: Friendship it's a curious thing. It is something that can erode with time, and when you try to start a casual conversation with people you were once close to a few years back, you end up talking about the weather. Or food, if you're Malaysian. In short, it is a living thing that requires cultivation and nourishment or, inevitably, it will wither and die. 

But with Zoe and Olivia, you see a friendship that can and will withstand the test of time. 

To anyone who has a best friend, a loved one who has or had cancer, or even a pet dog who doesn't mind you bawling into its fur because you're upset, read this book. Believe me, there will be lessons learned, whether you realise it or not.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my
 

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