Ahad, 4 Mei 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Cargo ship sinks, 12 missing near Hong Kong: officials

Posted: 04 May 2014 09:44 PM PDT

HONG KONG, May 05, 2014 (AFP) - Twelve crew members from a Chinese cargo ship are missing after it collided with a container vessel and sank just outside Hong Kong waters on Monday, authorities said.

The collision happened in the early hours of the morning near Po Toi Island which lies on the edge of Hong Kong's territory, a fire department spokesman told AFP.

"Two cargo ships collided and one of them sank," a police spokeswoman told AFP.

"Later one male was rescued and was sent to the hospital," she said, adding that rescue operations were underway to find the other crew members.

"There are 12 people missing," a fire department spokesman told AFP, adding that they were crew from the cargo ship from mainland China which had collided with a container vessel.

The fire department spokesman said the accident happened three miles (nearly five kilometres) south of Po Toi, just outside Hong Kong maritime territory.

Hong Kong's waters are notoriously crowded. Hundreds of vessels, from wooden sampans to enormous container ships, ply the shipping routes that criss-cross the territory every day.

A collision in October 2012 between a high-speed ferry and a pleasure boat claimed 39 lives in the city's worst maritime disaster for over 40 years.
The tragedy shocked the Asian financial hub, one of the world's busiest ports, which prides itself on its good safety record. - AFP

Son of New Zealand's Maori king on burglary charges

Posted: 04 May 2014 09:21 PM PDT

WELLINGTON, May 05, 2014 (AFP) - The son of New Zealand's Maori king appeared in court on Monday charged with burglary and stealing surfboards in a North Island town, prompting a rare public rebuke from the indigenous figurehead.

Korotangi Paki, 18, who is the son of King Tuheitia, pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary and one of theft from a car, relating to offences carried out in Gisborne in March, Radio New Zealand reported.

Paki's lawyer had pushed for a ban on media identifying him in the case, but later dropped the application.

 The teenager was granted bail and will be sentenced in July.

Tuheitia was not in court for his son's appearance but told Fairfax Media ahead of the hearing that the boy had gone "off the rails", culminating in the thieving spree with three co-accused after a drinking session.

The Maori monarch, who made headlines when he refused to meet Britain's Prince William during last month's royal tour of New Zealand, said his first instinct was to try to shield his son from the consequences of his actions.

But he said he decided to publicly rebuke his second-born child instead, forcing him to confront the embarrassment he had caused.

"I think Korotangi has learnt his lesson," Tuheitia told Fairfax. "I think he knows what he has put me through now. I know he won't be doing anything else."

Tuheitia is descended from the first Maori king Potatau Te Wherowhero, who was appointed in 1858 by various North Island tribes which wanted a single figure to represent them in the way that Britain's Queen Victoria was felt to represent New Zealand's white settlers.

The position does not have any constitutional status or legal powers in New Zealand but carries huge symbolic importance for many Maori.

The current king worked as a truck driver before his coronation in 2006.

He refused to meet Prince William because his office felt the 90 minutes allotted for the face-to-face visit was insufficient, arguing he was "not a carnival act" for visiting dignitaries.

Nets reinforced around S.Korean ferry to stop body drift

Posted: 04 May 2014 09:18 PM PDT

SEOUL, May 05, 2014 (AFP) - South Korean recovery workers strengthened a ring of netting Monday around a submerged ferry, in a bid to prevent corpses drifting out to open sea, as dive teams recovered 11 more bodies, raising the death toll to 259.

The latest bodies were found during a pre-dawn operation Monday, but 43 people remain unaccounted for.

 It has been 19 days since the 6,825-tonne Sewol capsized and sank with 476 people on board - most of them schoolchildren.

Recovery workers using fishing boats strengthened a ring of netting around the site off the southern island of Jindo, amid concerns that powerful currents may have pulled some bodies into the open sea.

"They are putting extra netting near the site to prevent the loss of bodies," maritime ministry spokesman Park Seung-Ki told a morning briefing.

The operation followed a meeting in a Jindo harbour Sunday between President Park Geun-Hye and the relatives of passengers still missing.

The relatives are insisting that all the bodies should be recovered before efforts begin to raise the sunken ferry.

The search has been hampered by fast currents and high waves, while dive teams have been working in challenging and sometimes hazardous conditions.

They have to grope their way down guiding ropes to the sunken ship, struggling through narrow passageways and rooms littered with floating debris in silty water.

As days go by, personal belongings and other items from the ship have been spotted further and further away, fuelling concerns that some victims of the ferry disaster may never be found.

Last week bodies were retrieved up to four kilometres (two miles) away from the recovery site, and bedding materials from the ship were found as far as 30 kilometres away.

It is one of South Korea's worst peacetime disasters, made all the more shocking by the loss of so many young lives.

Of those on board, 325 were students from the same high school in Ansan city, just south of Seoul.

Public anger has focused on the captain and crew members who abandoned the ship, while hundreds were trapped inside.

There is also fury at the authorities as more evidence emerges of lax safety standards and possible corruption among state regulators.

The captain and 14 of his crew have been arrested. Prosecutors have arrested three officials from the ferry operator - Chonghaejin Marine Co - on charges of having the ferry overloaded well beyond its legal limit.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Kristin Chenoweth to play Maleficent in Disney Channel's 'Descendants'

Posted: 04 May 2014 01:30 AM PDT

The live-action TV movie will feature a string of other villains including Jafar and Cruella De Vil.

Disney Channel is bringing some extra Wicked to its upcoming original TV movie Descendants. Singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth has been cast in the role of Sleeping Beauty villain Maleficent in the live action movie, which will focus on the offspring of Disney's greatest villains as they begin to question the family business of evil.

As Maleficent, Chenoweth will work opposite her onscreen daughter Mal, who will be played by Liv And Maddie star Dove Cameron.

Chenoweth, 45, played Glinda in Broadway's Wicked. Her television credits include ABC's GCB and Pushing Daisies, Fox's Glee, and NBC's The West Wing. The movie also stars Grown Ups actor Cameron Boyce as Cruella De Vil's Son, Twilight alum Booboo Stewart, who'll play Jafar's son Jay, and newcomers Sofia Carson and Mitchell Hope will play the daughter of the Evil Queen and the son of Belle and the Beast, respectively.

The live-action film, which is being directed by High School Musical vet Kenny Ortega, will begin production in late spring for a premiere next year. — Reuters

The Simpsons turn into Legos for 550th episode

Posted: 02 May 2014 07:55 PM PDT

Homer has hallucinations ... er, so what's new?

FOX has released the trailer for Brick Like Me, a special Lego-themed episode scheduled to air tomorrow (May 4). Homer, his family and the rest of Springfield have all been turned into Lego minifigures living in a world made of bricks.

The special Lego episode of The Simpsons will air on FOX on May 4.

The 550th episode of the animated comedy shows Homer Simpson having strange hallucinations. In a world where everything is made of bricks, and where U-shaped claws take the place of hands, the father of the famous yellow family finds himself imagining he has fingers.

This special episode commemorates the collaboration between Lego and FOX, announced in January, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show. The tie-up resulted in the launch of a new Lego collection based on the irreverent comedy, including 16 new minifigures of Springfield's best known residents and everything needed to build Homer and Marge's house.

The Simpsons' House construction set is available at US$199.99, including six minifigures (Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and Ned). The 16 minifigures are also available separately in individual "mystery bags" priced at US$3.99 each. – AFP Relaxnews

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China's trade situation to improve after May - commerce ministry

Posted: 04 May 2014 08:55 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's overall trade is likely to gain momentum after May when high base effects fade off and data more accurately reflects the underlying picture, the commerce ministry said in a report on its website.

External trade is looking in better shape this year than the previous year although uncertainties continue to weigh on exports, the ministry said in its quarterly report on foreign trade.

It noted that demand from emerging markets was constrained due to slower growth there while consumption from developed economies was also relatively soft.

China's exports unexpectedly fell for the second straight month in March and import growth dropped sharply, intensifying concerns about weak manufacturing and slowing growth.

Analysts have attributed the weak trade figures partly to an inflated comparison base with last year due to a rash of fake invoicing of exports to beat foreign exchange restrictions. The authorities have cracked down on such activities since May of last year.

"With the base effects that affect trade growth disappearing, the foreign trade data will reflect the situation more accurately and the situation is likely to improve after May," said the report on the ministry's website, www.mofcom.gov.cn, on Sunday.

Imports and exports in the first quarter were within a stable growth range after excluding the base effects and were better than other major economies, the ministry said.

"If there are no big changes in the external environment, China's imports and exports are likely to maintain relatively stable growth in 2014," the report said.

Still, exporters face increasing challenges including rising labour and land costs, appreciation of the yuan currency and trade friction, it added.

A private survey on China's manufacturing sector on Monday, and a separate one from the government last week, both showed export orders contracted in April.

China's Premier Li Keqiang said last week that China will step up support for trade, including quickening the pace of tax rebate payments for exporters, as part of policy measures to support a slowing economy.

China will release April trade data on Thursday.

(Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Jonathan Standing; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

China hunting family members of Xinjiang bombers

Posted: 04 May 2014 08:25 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in China's restive far western region of Xinjiang are looking for the family members of one of the men who died in an apparent suicide bombing at a train station last week, a state-run newspaper said on Monday.

The Chinese government has blamed religious extremists for carrying out a bomb and knife attack at a train station in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang, on Wednesday evening that killed one bystander and wounded 79.

Both attackers were killed in the blast, according to the government. In an embarrassing security lapse, the attack happened just as President Xi Jinping was wrapping up his first visit to Xinjiang since becoming president last year.

The newspaper identified one of the attackers as Sedirdin Sawut, a 39-year-old man from Xayar county in Xinjiang's Aksu region. The man is a member of the Muslim Uighur minority, judging by his name.

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said police are now looking for Sawut's wife, father, two cousins and his father-in-law, who seem to have gone missing after the attack.

They are all suspected of helping Sawut in the attack, the newspaper said, citing anonymous Xinjiang police officers.

Police are also looking for two other men who may have been involved in making the bombs, both of whom knew Sawut and also come from the same county, the report added.

Resource-rich and strategically located Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, has for years been beset by violence blamed by the Chinese government on Islamist militants and separatists, but suicide attacks have been extremely rare.

There have been suicide bombings before in China, mostly by people with personal grievances, but it has generally not been a tactic employed by Uighurs.

"Previously the attackers would try to leave after they planted the bomb. This time they obviously stayed to be killed," the newspaper quoted another unnamed security official as saying.

In October, a car ploughed into tourists on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing the car's three occupants and two bystanders, in what the government believed was a suicide attack by people from Xinjiang.

Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest in Xinjiang is China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Uighur people.

Unrest in Xinjiang has caused the deaths of more than 100 people in the past year, prompting a tougher stance against the Turkic-language speaking Uighurs, many of whom resent government controls on their culture and religion.

In March, 29 people were stabbed to death in the southwestern city of Kunming, far from Xinjiang and on the borders of Southeast Asia. The government blamed that attack on Xinjiang extremists.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

Panama leader's deputy-turned-rival wins presidency

Posted: 04 May 2014 08:15 PM PDT

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama's vice-president, running as an opposition candidate, won the presidential election on Sunday after a campaign in which he took credit for outgoing leader Ricardo Martinelli's successful economic policies while promising a cleaner government. Juan Carlos Varela of the center-right Panamenista Party (PP) helped Martinelli get elected as president in 2009 but later fell out with him. He has vowed to tackle corruption, lower inflation and reduce poverty.

Varela had 39 percent support with about 80 percent of votes counted, enough for a comfortable victory over his two main rivals, Jose Domingo Arias or the ruling Democratic Change party (CD) and left-leaning former Panama City mayor Juan Carlos Navarro of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

"Better times are on the way. There will be an honest, humane government of national unity, a government of social peace," Varela told Reuters at a Panama City hotel after the election tribunal declared him the winner.

Varela ran a campaign largely based around claiming credit for Martinelli's successes, including a popular program to give $120 a month to people over the age of 70 and outside the social security system, and infrastructure projects such as the Panama City metro.

Under Panamanian law, Martinelli was unable to seek re-election but his wife was Arias' vice presidential running mate and critics accused the outgoing president of trying to maintain control of Panama behind the scenes.

He blamed the media for his protegee's defeat, accusing them of spreading lies. He was also unable to contain his scorn for Varela.

"I know the winner. May God have mercy on us," he said.

Varela, 50, inherits an economy that has grown rapidly in recent years and oversight of a major expansion of the Panama Canal, which briefly stalled earlier this year in a row with the building consortium over costs.

Martinelli, a supermarket magnate, has pushed the canal expansion and other infrastructure projects that helped spur economic growth. But his reputation was tarred by allegations that his government gave contracts and other favors to friends and business interests.

"This government ... will defend to the last cent money that belongs to the Panamanian people and it will not tolerate corruption," Varela told a cheering crowd on Sunday night.

No major changes in policy are expected. All the main candidates had similar platforms so the campaign focused more on personalities than proposals.

"I am so overwhelmed, I can barely find words," said Agustin Cerru, 54, as sounded the horn of his car, a Varela banner flying from the window. "A lot of people didn't think we were going to win."

Pollsters had put Varela in third place, though not far behind his two main rivals in what was expected to be a very close race. A banking and trading hub, Panama is best known for the canal that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Accounting directly for 8 percent of gross domestic product, it has helped fuel the fastest growth in Latin America in the last few years. Varela, whose family runs Panama's biggest liquor company, faces the challenge of maintaining buoyant growth but ensuring more of the benefits trickle down in a land where a quarter of the population lives in poverty. At up to $624 a month, the minimum wage in Panama is among the highest in Latin America, but many of the country's poorest are feeling the bite of nagging inflation. The discontent has led to a nationwide construction strike over pay since April 25. That has halted thousands of projects, including work on the canal expansion, much to the annoyance of Martinelli, who will hand over power on July 1.

(Additional reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Simon Gardner, Elinor Comlay and Kieran Murray)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

British actor Matt Smith joins 'Terminator' reboot

Posted: 04 May 2014 08:50 PM PDT

The former Doctor Who star will be playing a new character in the upcoming film.

Matt Smith is headed from one iconic sci-fi franchise to another.

The popular Doctor Who star, who just left the legendary British show last year, has been cast in the upcoming Terminator reboot, Paramount announced recently. He will play a new character with a strong connection to John Connor, and joins a cast that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi and Byung Hun Lee.

Smith recently acted for Ryan Gosling in the actor's directorial debut Lost River, alongside Christina Hendricks, Eva Mendes and Saoirse Ronan.

Alan Taylor will direct the film, which is being called Terminator: Genesis, from a screenplay written by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. The film is due out on July 1, 2015, and is expected to launch a new franchise for Paramount and producers Skydance. — Reuters

Vans launches Star Wars-themed kicks

Posted: 04 May 2014 08:30 PM PDT

It is now possible to take a walk on the dark side and be the epitome of cool.

Things are hotting up for fans of a specific galaxy far, far away with the launch of a new limited edition line of Star Wars-themed sneakers by Vans.

Hot on the heels (sorry) of the announcement last week of the cast of the next Star Wars movie comes news of a collaboration between the skate shoe brand's premium Vault by Vans line and the Star Wars movies.

The "Vault by Vans x Star Wars" sneakers take some of the label's classic models and reinterpret them using vintage 1980s prints with a Star Wars touch. Darth Vader, Stormtrooper helmet shapes, lightsabers and Imperial AT-AT Walkers all feature across the line.

The shoes will be available on June 1, although a few limited edition pieces will be launched this week in selected stores across the globe. — AFP Relaxnews

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Ho Hup climbs to RM1.67 after exit from PN17

Posted: 04 May 2014 07:28 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Ho Hup Construction Company rose to a high of RM1.67 on Monday after it regularised its financial condition.

At 10.10am, it was down one sen to RM1.59. There were 8.39 million shares done at prices ranging from RM1.57 to RM1.67.

Ho Hup had regularised its financial condition and level of operations and no longer triggered the Practice Note 17 classification.

China's half-year reform report: slow, safe and steady

Posted: 04 May 2014 07:14 PM PDT

REUTERS: Six months into China's grand economic makeover, Beijing is playing it safe, choosing gradual progress on many fronts over game-changing, riskier reforms such as removing all controls over bank interest rates.

Yet taken together, the incremental steps promise to reach enough critical mass to sustain reform momentum and help the world's second-largest economy shift down fairly smoothly after decades of red-hot investment-fuelled growth.

It's the 21st century version of Deng Xiaoping's "crossing the river by touching the stones" strategy of cautious economic experimentation in the 1970s and 1980s.

The caution is still there; the difference today is that China is crossing the river in many spots at once and the water is probably deeper.

Economists say there is no substitute for fundamental changes if China is to succeed in its transformation from bureaucrat-run, pollution-spewing industrial powerhouse to a more balanced, market-driven economy.

However, reforms such as freeing up bank interest rates or dismantling state monopolies will cause much short-term pain, and provide gains only in the long-term. With the economy expected to grow by 7.3% this year, the slowest in 24 years and close to the level Beijing believes is needed to preserve financial and social stability, those reforms will have to wait.

"We are doing easier ones first and leaving the difficult reforms for later," said Xu Hongcai, senior economist at China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, an influential think-tank in Beijing.

But Xu and others are encouraged by the progress so far and the consistency President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have shown in pushing for a greater role for markets across the economy.

"The leadership is committed to reforms, there is no doubt about that," said Lu Feng, vice dean of National School of Development at Peking University and a government policy advisor.

Since November, when Communist Party leaders adopted a reform blueprint for the rest of the decade, no week has passed without new initiatives in areas ranging from the environment, resource pricing to capital flows and financial regulation.

"We have indeed seen in the last four or five months a steady accumulation of steps in key areas," said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong and a former World Bank economist in Beijing.

Financial market liberalisation is a good example.

Freeing up of lending rates last July and the doubling of the yuan trading band in March got most airtime, but they were accompanied by many other steps making it easier to move capital within China and across its borders.


Just over the past two months, regulators eased curbs on foreign investments in Chinese stocks, allowed cross-border share investment between China and Hong Kong, eased approvals for overseas acquisitions and domestic mergers and takeovers.

However, a deposit insurance scheme expected to pave the way to removal of curbs on deposit rates has been slow in coming and it is clear that a free-floating yuan and opening up of China's capital account are still years away.

But changes made so far have already had the effect of allowing more balanced capital flows.

The scaling back of central government's administrative approval powers and simplified business registration are also expected to bring not yet easily measurable, but tangible economic benefits.

For example, the easing of capital registration rules on March 1 brought a 46% surge in that month alone in the number of newly registered firms over a year earlier.

Gradual removal of distortions in pricing of resources such as gas, and services like rail transport and healthcare, is another area where Beijing has been making progress, though many of those steps, taken in isolation, would have little impact.

While those could be seen as low-hanging fruit, the vigour with which many local authorities have been experimenting with mixed ownership of state-firms or new management incentives qualifies as one of positive surprises.

Provinces have also shown similar resolve in launching new pilot schemes and special economic zones. It is too early to tell how much impact they may have, but the direction is clear: towards more opening up, more competition, more markets, more smart technologies, and cleaner technologies.


The thorniest decisions, such as stripping big state firms of an implicit government guarantee or opening sectors such as banking to competition, still lie ahead.

Also, little has happened with mooted reforms to China's residence registration system and land property rights needed to boost the nation's urban population, among Beijing's strategic priorities.

Economists also expect slow progress with the promised revamp of how revenues, spending and responsibilities are split between Beijing and local governments, made tricky by high levels of local debt and the need for new sources of tax revenue.

Beijing's top leaders have themselves warned that resistance from those affected by change such as powerful managers of state firms or provincial officials will only get stronger.

They say the reforms are entering "deep waters."

Yet, the overall verdict six months after the reform blueprint was announced is that so far, despite the economic slowdown and signs of financial strains highlighted by China's first domestic bond defaults, Beijing has not strayed from the course.

Royal Bank of Scotland's Kuijs says steps taken by Beijing in the past two months to prop up the economy such as fast-tracking spending on some rail lines and debate whether more stimulus might be needed could leave an impression that reforms have taken a back seat.

"But then if you look at the accumulation of steps on the reform side, you realise that the reform process is still going on." – Reuters

Portugal to end EU-IMF bailout with clean break

Posted: 04 May 2014 07:02 PM PDT

LISBON: Portugal decided to make a clean break from its EU-IMF bailout on Sunday, following in the footsteps of Ireland by forgoing a credit line as it prepares a full return to the credit markets.

The decision, made during an evening cabinet meeting, came after the country passed the final bailout audit by EU-IMF experts on Friday, thereby closing out the essential part of its €78bil three-year rescue.

"The government decided that we will exit our rescue programme without resorting to any precautionary programme," Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said during a television broadcast following the meeting surrounded by his ministers.

The decision was the "best for the interests of Portugal" after the country "regained its credibility", he added.

It was applauded by the European Commission, which said it would "support the government and the Portuguese people".

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said the decision meant "Portugal is now able to complete the consolidation of public finances".

Portugal is now set to emerge from the bailout on May 17, and is expected to try to finance itself on bond markets without a so-called safety net, becoming the second stricken eurozone country to do so after Ireland.

Portugal made the decision while still enacting the latest round of severe measures to keep its public finances within targets laid down by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank.

Rafts of reforms tied to rescue loans pushed the country into recession and the people into severe hardship, with cuts in pay, pensions and public services.

The auditors, who began their last audit of progress on reforms on April 22, finished their work late on Thursday after marathon negotiations.

Their approval of the national accounts and progress opens the way for the release of the last payment of €2.6bil of the total rescue package of €78bil (US$108bil) extended in May 2011.

By following the example set by Ireland, Portugal will now proceed to issue bonds without having the back-up of a precautionary line of credit.

The strategy decided Sunday comes before a eurozone finance minister meeting in Brussels on Monday, where the Portuguese minister will present the government's financing plans.

Passos Coelho said the government had enough funding reserves to protect itself from at least a year of financial turbulence. – AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Baz Luhrmann in negotiations to direct Elvis Presley biopic

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:35 PM PDT

The King may live again, if the Great Gatsby director gets his way.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the building – as in, the Warner Bros building – and director Baz Luhrmann is in negotiations to join the iconic singer, who is the subject of an untitled biopic being written by Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades Of Grey), TheWrap has learned. Warner Bros had no comment.

Marcel is hard at work writing an original screenplay about Elvis Presley, the hip-gyrating King of Rock 'n' Roll, that will not be based on any pre-existing material. While the project is believed to be a biopic, it's unclear which periods of Presley's life would be depicted in the film.

Gail Berman is producing for Tecumseh Productions, while Andrew Mittman of Whalerock Industries will executive produce. WB executive Courtenay Valenti will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Warner Bros has secured rights to all musical components in Presley's catalog for this project, multiple individuals familiar with the situation told TheWrap.

Luhrmann has been in negotiations for several weeks and should his deal close, it's expected that his wife, Oscar winner Catherine Martin, would board the project as costume designer and possibly as production designer as well.

Baz Luhrmann on the set of The Great Gatsby.

Luhrmann has several projects in development – including Legendary's Kung Fu movie – and it remains unclear which project will serve as Luhrmann's follow-up to The Great Gatsby. The film was Luhrmann's biggest earner, and with such an impressive gross for a literary drama, it's no wonder Warner Bros is eager to get back in business with Luhrmann.

Luhrmann, who was nominated for an Oscar for producing his dazzling 2001 musical Moulin Rouge, is also developing a Napoleon miniseries for HBO. He's repped by WME and Hirsch Wallerstein.

Marcel is the creator of Terra Nova, who earned high marks for her Saving Mr Banks screenplay. Her work on the latter led to her being hired to adapt E.L. James' bestselling novel, Fifty Shades Of Grey – which hits theatres next Valentine's Day.

Berman and Mittman are developing a Jesse Owens movie as well as an adaptation of the bestselling book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. — Reuters

Hugh Jackman is ready to de-claw after 'Wolverine' sequel

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:25 PM PDT

The Australian actor has played the mutant in seven films, including the upcoming X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine in seven X-Men films, but he's "99.9% sure" the sequel to The Wolverine will be the last time he pops the Marvel mutant's claws.

"I still am very ambitious for the character. And tonally I feel like we corrected the ship with the last one. But I feel we can still go further, in a way," Jackman told SFX Magazine. "If I did another one I'm 99.9% sure it would be the last, so that will inform what it is for me."

If the sequel even happens, that is.

While Jackman is not shy about working with director James Mangold to develop a sequel to last summer's blockbuster, which sent the practically immortal superhero to Japan, the actor emphasised "we're still working it out". 

"I'm excited to see what we can come up with, but I haven't signed on signed on," Jackson said.

"I'm genuinely at that point where unless it's better than the last one I'm not going to do it." 20th Century Fox announced in November that Mangold was coming back to write the treatment, but no plot details were revealed. Based on Jackman's answers in this interview, it doesn't sound like many have been decided yet.

"I'd probably move it to a different visual palette," Jackman said. "We are looking at a lot of different storylines. No one has jumped out. You can tell from my answer that we're still working it out."

The Wolverine grossed over US$414.8mil (RM1.32bil) worldwide last year, so a sequel seems inevitable. But Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse is already lined up for a May 2016 release date.

How much more X-Men can Jackman commit to? Apparently, not much.

"If the script is as good? Hmmm. I don't know if that will get me across the line, man," Jackman said. "I think it has to be better." — Reuters

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

The Accident

Posted: 03 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Suspend disbelief and enjoy this fast-paced thriller about a menacing manuscript.

CHRIS Pavone is an American writer based in New York. His first book, The Expats, became a bestseller and was translated into more than a dozen languages. It also won the 2013 Edgar Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and is due to be adapted as a movie by CBS Films.

Pavone's writing has gained praise from the likes of fellow suspense writers Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and Michael Connelly. The Accident, Pavone's latest thriller, will no doubt be stacked high on airport bookshop shelves right beside their books. Upon release in March, The Accident instantly became a US bestseller.

As with many thrillers, The Accident follows a familiar structure, using the points of view of several different characters who initially get their own chapters and then, as the book advances their stories, gradually intersect and overlap and ultimately lead to the obvious denouement that is telegraphed in a none-too-subtle manner from about halfway through the book.

Despite the predictable and unchallenging nature of the plot, I still didn't get bored reading The Accident. It is a template for what a thriller should be, with all the ingredients weighed out in the correct proportions, including suspense, romance, betrayal and deceit, greed and intrigue, a believable and sympathetic protagonist, Swiss bank accounts, hidden identities, a globe-trotting range of locations including Copenhagen, Zurich and Los Angeles, but principally New York and its surroundings. In one brief episode I even recognised my old neighbourhood in Brussels.

Isabel Reed is the heroine of The Accident. She is a New York literary agent who mysteriously receives an anonymous manuscript that contains allegations against a high-ranking media mogul with important political connections. Some segments of the manuscript are featured in the body of the book as a way of providing a back story into the allegations and insights into the media mogul's secrets of success.

Isabel immediately understands that if the book is made public it will topple the mogul's media empire and have grave political ramifications – but most importantly to her, it will sell millions of copies and save her flagging career. And both the potential editor and the publisher are also interested for similar reasons.

Given the incendiary nature of the manuscript, Isabel knows that it is important to keep it under wraps, but this proves impossible. Rumours quickly fly and get to the wrong ears. There are people willing to kill to make sure that the manuscript is never published, and sure enough, pretty soon the bodies start to drop, forcing Isabel to go on the run.

The gaping hole in this story is the fact that everything revolves around the manuscript, of which it is believed there is only one single paper copy. It will be obvious to any reader that it would be perfectly feasible for the author to save his book on several memory sticks, or send it by e-mail to as many people as he wants, or put copies of it on different online file sharing sites, or even self-publish it as an e-book. None of these possibilities are ever mentioned, or even alluded to, as to do so would destroy the pretext of the story, so there is a certain degree of willing suspension of disbelief required of the reader.

Apart from this flaw, The Accident is an exciting, page-turning read and a behind-the-scenes exploration of the publishing industry, where the characters are publishers, agents, acquisition specialists, fact checkers, editors, bookshop owners and, of course, the mysterious anonymous writer.

The publishing world might sound like a boring setting for a thriller but Pavone breathes life, excitement and passion into it. As well as being a thriller, The Accident is an exploration of an industry that is undergoing a huge mutation. The fact that Pavone is married to the president and CEO of Penguin Random House obviously has something to do with his intimate knowledge of the publishing industry.

His characters are very believable and the dialogue is spot on. The writing is unadorned and The Accident is an entertaining and untaxing but enjoyable and exciting read. At 380 pages it is long enough to keep the commuter or bedtime reader occupied for a while. If you enjoy thrillers and like books, then this one is highly recommended.

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LCCT in 'pandemonium', passengers forced into long queues

Posted: 04 May 2014 05:10 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Passengers arriving at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang had to deal with long queues in cramped and uncomfortable conditions, mainly due to a bottleneck at the immigration gates on Sunday.

"It was absolute chaos. I wasn't sure what lines were going where and which were the queues for foreign and Malaysian passports," said 27-year-old lawyer Tharishni Arumugam, who was one among a thousand stuck at the airport.

She also said passengers encountered out-of-order escalators, dim lighting and barely working air-conditioning.

"There was a massive amount of people going up towards immigration but the escalators were not working. Elderly people were forced to carry their heavy roller bags up," she said.

Tharishni said only a small number of immigration officers were at hand to cater to the enormous surge of people.

"I wasn't quite sure what was going on. There seemed to be no immigration officers when I landed at about 4pm," said Tharishni.

Tharishni, who had just returned from Bangkok, said the crowd finally started moving at 4.30pm as more immigration officers were deployed to the gates.

She added there were Rela officers around to ensure the situation remained under control.

She said a few tussles nearly broke out as tensions rose.

"People could be heard shouting aggressively. I figured it was because some were cutting lines," she said.

"I felt frustrated, angry and perplexed. The worst part is that we were not informed what was happening. The authorities should have explained what was going on and tried to manage the crowd better," she said.

Tharishni added that this was the first instance she had encountered difficulty at LCCT's immigration checkpoints, as she usually has a very easy time passing through the airport.

Another frequent traveller, 21-year-old Keana Reinu said even the elderly and families with young children had to wrestle through with their luggage.

"It was extremely stuffy and AirAsia staff had to push special needs passengers to the front of the crowd," she said, adding that some passengers also tried to barge their way through, sparking off a lot of shouting from others.

"There were no ground staff on hand to organise and control the crowd.

"Besides the three autogates for Malaysian passports, only two immigration officers were on hand to manually clear passengers while the several other counters remained unmanned and empty," she said, adding that the queue leading to immigration counters extended almost to the tarmac.

Claiming baggage and clearing customs was a similar nightmare, especially after more flights landed.

"Staff had to remove luggage from the conveyor belt to make way. People couldn't find their baggage as it was in a sea of unorganised bags on the floor.

"Clearing customs was just as bad because only one lane and one machine was open," she explained.

Altogether, Keana took more than an hour to pass through the airport. She added that she was fortunate and that others had to wait much longer before they could get out of the airport.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad operation services senior general manager Datuk Azmi Murad said that the congestion was due to the long weekend and stretched manpower resources.

"This evening, there was quite heavy traffic at LCCT because of the Thursday holiday and long weekend rush," he said, adding that the crowd congestion was mainly between 3-4pm.

"There was no issue with the immigration system but since immigration is manning all three places (KLIA, LCCT, KLIA2), we did not have full strength at LCCT," he added.

However, Azmi explained that crowding issues were settled in less than two hours.

"It would be unfair to blame immigration," said Azmi who explained that he did not expect a re-occurrence of the issue as the move to KLIA 2 is to be completed by Friday.

"The immigration staff were on hand but the crowd was exceptionally heavy in spite of KLIA2's operation," he said.

Kenyir Lake waterfall to be reserved for women only, says Terengganu MB

Posted: 04 May 2014 04:41 AM PDT

KUALA BERANG: One of the many waterfalls in Tasik Kenyir, which is being promoted by Terengganu as a major tourist attraction and duty-free area, is to be reserved for women only.

The people handling boats going to that waterfall as well as security personnel for the area would all be women, said state Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.

This arrangement was being made in meeting a special request from women tourists from West Asia, he told reporters after launching the month-long Kenyir Festival 2014 which will be on until May 29 at Pengkalan Gawi at the lake.

Ahmad said the specially-designated area was one of the Terengganu government's efforts to promote the lake as a unique international tourist attraction.

From September next year, Tasik Kenyir will also be the first duty-free lake in the world.

Ahmad said the government had thus far spent about RM300 million to develop the lake into a tourism attraction and duty-free area.

He said projects already completed included providing electricity to the Pulau Bayas duty-free site by extending the cables a further 22km at a cost of RM33mil.

Several islands in the lake area had also been developed and work was now in progress to build the main jetty on Pulau Bayas at a cost of RM70mil.

He also said that construction of a network of shops, facilities for Indah Water Konsortium, a water tank and the Customs complex was about 75% completed.

Ahmad said work on a new four-lane bridge, which would become the main link between Pengkalan Gawi and Pulau Poh Besar would begin soon.

He said the island, which covers about 40 hectares, would also get two jetties, one for passengers and another for cargo.

"We will build a hotel, a water recreation park and a 1,000-bay car park as Pengkalan Gawi does not have a large space for parking," he said.

On the Kenyir Elephant Village, Ahmad said it would be managed by the private sector and was due to open to the public on May 9.

He said the village now had nine tame elephants while there were 14 wild elephants in the surrounding area.

Ahmad said the village would feature tree-top chalets, a suspension bridge and a perimeter lookout point.

He said the area would be very attractive with its waterfalls, and tourists who stayed in the chalets would get to see the elephants wandering in the area.

"I am confident that Tasik Kenyir can draw the tourists and become a choice tourist destination in the future," he said.

The Terengganu government, through Ketengah, is targeting about 500,000 tourists to the largest artificial lake in Southeast Asia, sprawled over 260 sq km, with 340 man-made islands.

Last year, the lake attracted about 400,000 tourists. 

Pakatan could split up due to disagreement over hudud, says Kit Siang

Posted: 04 May 2014 03:42 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang (pic) has hinted that Pakatan Rakyat may split up "if hudud becomes a major issue".

"But if hudud becomes a major issue, Pakatan may go the way of the previous Barisan Alternatif," Lim said in a statement on Sunday.

Barisan Alternatif was a group of Opposition parties formed to counter Barisan Nasional, which disbanded after the general election in 2004.

Lim, who is Gelang Patah MP, said should such a situation occur, then DAP, PKR and PAS would be the losers.

Lim said the "dire prospect of a break-up of Pakatan Rakyat" due to disagreement over the implementation of hudud law could not be taken lightly, adding that the issue had "only descended on the country like a political tornado in a matter of weeks".

He said the majority of voters who supported Pakatan in the last general election did so for a change of government and not for hudud.

"Pakatan would not have continued to deny Barisan's two-thirds majority in Parliament if hudud was our agenda in the 13th general election," he said, adding that the DAP, PKR and PAS would have suffered serious electoral losses if hudud had been an issue back then.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is expected to move a Private Member's Bill at the Dewan Rakyat next month to pave the way for hudud to be implemented in Kelantan.

The proposal has been strongly opposed by DAP, which is PAS' ally in Pakatan Rakyat, as well as several parties in Barisan Nasional including MCA, MIC and Gerakan.

On April 24, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Federal Government had never rejected the implementation of hudud but there were loopholes that needed to be addressed before it can be carried out.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Libya parliament fails to choose new PM

Posted: 04 May 2014 06:40 AM PDT

TRIPOLI: Libya's parliament failed on Sunday to elect a new prime minister, with frontrunner Ahmed Miitig falling short of the 120 votes needed under the constitution.

Miitig, a businessman, beat university professor Omar al-Hassi by 73-43 but mustered only 113 votes in a vote of confidence in the 185-seat General National Congress.

It was the second time in a week that the GNC, Libya's top political authority, met to decide between the two candidates. Gunmen broke up a first session on Tuesday. -AFP

18 dead in India train accident

Posted: 04 May 2014 06:24 AM PDT

NEW DELHI: A passenger train derailed in western India on Sunday, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 100 as rescue workers raced to free those still trapped, a police official said.

The train's engine and four of its carriages jumped the tracks in the western state of Maharashtra 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of Mumbai, police control room official Ramchandra Kamre told AFP in Raigad district, where the accident occurred.

"So far we have 18 reported deaths and 112 injured, who have been rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment," Kamre said.

Rescuers were trying to pull out passengers still trapped in overturned carriages, with cranes and teams of workers at the site.

Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge ordered an investigation into the accident, which occurred in the mid-morning as the train was travelling from Diwa on the outskirts of Mumbai to the city of Sawantwadi in Maharashtra.

India's underfunded rail network - one of the world's largest - has a notoriously bad safety record but remains the main form of long-distance travel in the huge country despite fierce competition from private airlines.

India's worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people. -AFP

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More than meets the eye in Fendy Zakri's art

Posted: 03 May 2014 04:45 PM PDT

See the hidden images that the artist includes in his works.

Ipoh-born Fendy Zakri has a primal relationship with his art.

He talks about appreciation of mystery and women, and in the same breath addresses – with much enthusiasm – topics like lust, desire and artistic taste.

Every line and stroke of the brush is deliberate and planned, Fendy Zakri says of the works  in his first solo exhibition Seeing The Unseen at Richard Koh Fine Art.

Every line and stroke of the brush is deliberate and planned, Fendy Zakri says of the works in his first solo exhibition Seeing The Unseen at Richard Koh Fine Art.

In his first solo exhibition at Richard Koh Fine Art in Kuala Lumpur, Fendy challenges conventional perspectives with hidden images in his works.

The exhibition, titled Seeing The Unseen, expands on the idea of unlocking the secrets of the universe with one mechanism.

"I love black, and I love messy!" Fendy Zakri declares when talking about his works created for his first solo exhibition Seeing The Unseen at Richard Koh Fine Art. All the works produced for this exhibition have hidden images in them, revealed when viewed with PicsArt, a photo editing software.

[ 'I love black, and I love messy!' Fendy Zakri declares when talking about his works created for his first solo exhibition Seeing The Unseen at Richard Koh Fine Art. All the works produced for this exhibition have hidden images in them, revealed when viewed with PicsArt, a photo editing software.

His work might look like a mess of colours and lines on canvas, but Fendy insists that every stroke of the brush is deliberate, every line is carefully composed – not unlike what happens behind the scenes with an orchestrated car crash in an action movie.

"I play with space, texture, colours, form, composition and balance ... and then distort it to make my artwork look abstract. And to hide the images within my painting even better, I explore ambiguous space, flat space and deep space," he says.

Fendy Zakri, Seeing the Unseen. This is #13, the biggest painting at this exhibition, Seeing the Unseen.

Fendy Zakri, Seeing the Unseen. This is #13, the biggest painting at this exhibition, Seeing the Unseen.

To the layperson, this explanation probably doesn't help shed very much light on the thought process behind his works.

But if this artist's mind is an open book that is hard to read, there is fortunately an easier – and rather fun! – way to unlock the hidden images in his art.

You will need to have photo editing software PicsArt on your phone to view the hidden images in Fendy Zakri's works.

Follow these instructions:

1. Download PicsArt

2. Snap a photo of the painting

3. Go to PicsArt and click on Effects

4. Click on Distort

5. Go to the bottom bar and select Mirrors

The hidden image in the painting will now be revealed.

Related story:

Fendy Zakri's mirrors and smoke

Australian art laws: Dealing with fraud

Posted: 03 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Australia strengthens the law to deal with art fakes.

ART conservators have turned art detectives that resulted in two successful prosecutions of art fraud in Australia.

This was revealed in a talk, Building Evidence For Use In Criminal Cases – Standard Practice and Methodologies: A Case Study In Australia, by Vanessa Kowalski at the National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG) in Kuala Lumpur on April 21.

Kowalski, from the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CCMC), the University of Melbourne, was en-route to a holiday in Sabah before a scheduled similar talk at The Hague in the Netherlands. The talk was timely in view of fakes emerging in the local art market and the ongoing revamp of the NVAG's Art Lab conservation department.

(In late March 2010, the then Member of Parliament Wee Choo Keong brought up the matter of fake paintings based on Datuk Ibrahim Hussein's Sports Series of eight lithographs).

In the talk, Kowalski expanded at length on how the CCMC, led by art historian-turned-conservator associate professor Robyn Sloggett, aided the criminal investigations that resulted in the conviction in the Victorian County Court of pensioners, Ivan and Pamela Liberto, charged with "obtaining financial advantage by deception" in 2007.

The couple, hailing from the Toorak, Melbourne, were found guilty of selling four forged paintings purportedly by Aboriginal artist Rover Thomas (1926-1998) to four Australian auction houses, including Sotheby's and Christie's, for a total of more than A$307,000 (RM934,226) over a four-year period (May 2002-2006), and attempting to sell two others.

Sotheby's, which had earlier sold a forgedRover Thomas, became suspicious when the couple consigned a Thomas work titled Rainbow Serpent, which was very similar but bigger than the one of the same title which they had sold only six months earlier for A$150,000 (RM456,462). The ancestral spirit, Rainbow Serpent, was cited as the angry force behind the cyclone Tracy that flattened Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974, and it was this type of Dreamtime paintings that first establish Rover Thomas' fame.

Thomas was one of two aboriginal artists who represented Australia at the 1990 Venice Biennale, the other being Trevor Nickolls (1949-2012).

The highest price fetched was A$146,400 (RM447,750, including commissions and tax) for Thomas' Wolf Creek Crater which was sold by auction house Lawson-Menzies to a Swiss gallery in 2005. In 2004, a bigger Cross Roads, went for A$114,000 (RM346,911), after a smaller Cross Roads was disposed for A$58,000 (RM176,499) a year earlier.

Where art fraud is concerned, the Australian investigation came under three Attribution Assessment Process categories, which are: 1) connoisseurship, which makes use of the expert's trained eye and acquaintance with the artist's body of work; 2) analysis of documentation that will help establish or confirm provenance; 3) physical and technical examination.

Using Infrared reflectography, an investigator is able to tell the techniques involved, the preparatory under-drawing and materials used, and any compositional changes. Factors like brushstrokes, stretchers, frames, pigment identification, restoration or varnish layers – whether original or applied later or brushed over or sprayed (in the case of the Libertos as the spray effect left tell-tale droplets). Sometimes, a simple microscope or ultra-violet light examination will do.

A detailed knowledge of the work process and habits of an individual artist is instrumental to ferreting uncharacteristic anomalies in the work. Thomas was known to paint directly without any drawing and use natural resins from trees as paint, thus the natural discolorations. Colour pigments used like emerald green and titanium white also come with incriminating timelines. The Libertos' copies were also suspiciously layered with a "manufactured gloss variation." They used conte crayon pigment to imitate the red dust and clumsily mixed sand into the colours instead of the natural wind-blown effect if the works were painted in the Kimberley diamond mine as claimed by Pamela.

Similarly, artists such as Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) and Brett Whiteley (1939-1992), the enfant terrible of Australian art, are targeted because of their "personal problems" and anything amiss in the works can easily be explained asan "off day" for the artist due to them being inebriated or under the influence of drugs. A more recent case of Whiteley's fakes is related to his Lavender Bay series.

Kowalski suggested that aboriginal paintings, with the widespread use of simple geometry and dot patterns, are fair game to potential forgers, while for modern art, abstract paintings prove to be more popular targets.

Aboriginal art is tied to a sacred belief system and ritual. Its traditional methods are privy to ethnic or tribal groups, with a nomadic lifestyl,e and presided over by elders, and thus not so easily communicable and documented. That leaves huge gaps in the story to be exploited by the unscrupulous few in the art scene.

The Libertos case had resulted in two innovations to protect the aboriginal art industry which is worth at least A$100 million (RM304.3 million) a year, and rising. They are chemical fingerprinting (using unique colours to artist's palette) and a multi-layered bar coded microdot system.

Prices of aboriginal Australian art hit the roof after the Asia Society's blockbuster exhibition, Dreamings: The Art Of Aboriginal Australia, in New York in 1988.

While this was the first art fraud conviction in Victoria, the dubious honour of the first in indigenous art fraud in Australia goes to Adelaide man John Douglas O'Loughlin, in 2001, for faking works of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002).

What isbaffling, however, is how an old couple (art amateurs) without any art background – Ivan was a mechanic – managed to fool the experts from four reputable auction houses. In the other successful case in 2010, the Australia artists Robert Dickerson and Charles Blackman, who is suffering from dementia, won their case against gallerists Peter Gant and Anor, and the purported counterfeits passing off as their works were subsequently destroyed.

But "fakes" is also a slippery word. In the University of California Press book (Berkeley and Los Angeles), Fake? The Art Of Deception, edited by Mark Jones, there are also other factors in determining fakes such as copying from a master and the master's liberal corrections, a "school" workshop production, variations of a theme, replicas and facsimiles, and reproductions of art which is damaged. There was some furor when two similar works on the Forbidden City by Singaporean painter Georgette Chen (1906-1993) surfaced, but the anomaly was explained as the artist's secret commission on the insistence of an eccentric collector.

On the same page: The meeting of two artists at Temu

Posted: 03 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Temu is a creative meeting of sorts for two art contemporaries.

Faizal Suhif has always been a man of the soil. Growing up, the farming life was all that he knew.

The lush vegetation, tranquillity of a simple village life, and the stories and proverbs the elders would utter to him in the evenings took shape in his growing mind like a great tree.

From a very young age, Faizal drew inspiration from these fascinating elements in his life. And like the passionate artist that he is, he would go on to paint and draw with oil, charcoal and soil these images from his earliest memories. The results were altogether spectacular and nostalgic.

Faizal and his artistic peer Jamil Zakaria, another man whose works are personifications of traditional Malay adages, feature in Kuala Lumpur-based 69 Fine Art Gallery's latest exhibition called Temu, which boasts paintings and sculptures. Both are fine arts graduates from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Jamil Zakaria with his steel wire installations

Jamil Zakaria with his steel wire installations.

The exhibition's title signifies the creative meeting of these two artists: Faizal from Muar, Johor and Jamil from Guar Chempedak, Kedah. Some of the works featured in this Temu exhibition also come from Dusun Seni, a studio in idyllic Ulu Langat, Selangor, where both these artists work from.

Though there is no crossover in terms of technique, subject matter or even theme, something else does tie their very distinct and unique artworks together.

Like his past works, Malay proverbs are evident in Jamil's steel wire installations in Temu. He is one of the few artists in Malaysia to thrive through his steel wire works, which involves a lot visualising and planning on paper before a piece can be completed.

One such work, named Mulut Meriam, depicts half a human body in a kneeling position. Where there would have been a torso, two hands and a head was a cannon in wheels. Several cannon balls can be seen all loaded up and ready to be fired in the stomach of this part human figure.

Then comes the intriguing bit. One of the legs is shackled by an iron ball, akin to a slave or a prisoner.

Seharian Di Ladang by Faizal Suhif

Honest toil: Faizal Suhif's Seharian Di Ladang, which was inspired by an old farm worker in Bali, Indonesia.

The installation seems as if to say that humans are enslaved and shackled by the tragedy called life. We have no choice but to surrender.

For the visitors in this gallery, the key is in the title of the piece itself.

"Mulut Meriam is an idiom used to describe someone who lashes out at others with offensive and hurtful language," explained Jamil, 29.

"All of us have that nature within us and we have to control that nature. That is what the iron-ball shackle represents. We have to restrain it like prisoners are restrained." Another gripping piece is one called Sarang Kehidupan. Inspired by that famous Malay adage diam-diam ubi berisi, Jamil pointed out that the installation, an oddly shaped closed structure, alludes to tuber plants, whose stems and leaves are visible to us but not what grows underground. Within the structure are tunnel-like passageways, all leading to a central organ.

"Similarly, we can see the body of an anthill but we are not aware of the government and the structure within. It's as if the anthill is non-existent.

Jamil's Mulut Meriam asks us to shackle down our inner demons which enjoys lashing out at others

Jamil Zakaria's Mulut Meriam is the artist's statement about shackling our inner demons.

"This triggered a thought within me. I wanted to show that though something seems static, like my installation, there is life within. So, when you meet someone, you can't assume that is all there is to them," expressed Jamil philosophically. Faizal's pieces, on the other hand, lend a more nostalgic stance to the exhibition. Though some are based on Malay idioms, many of his artworks point back to the times he spent in the farm.

Seharian Di Ladang, a charcoal piece, was inspired by an old farm worker Faizal encountered in Bali, Indonesia. The black and white drawing depicts a septuagenarian, chewing a paddy stalk while carrying a gunny sack on her head.

"It's a symbol of working hard and harvesting something at the end as a result of diligence. In spite of her age, the old lady is still working on the ground, energetic, harvesting paddy and I asked myself, 'Am I doing anything substantial with my life? If an old lady can do it, why can't I?'" said Faizal, 30, who is no stranger to contemplation in his work.

Faizal with his monoprint Hope series

Faizal Suhif with his monoprint Hope series at 69 Fine Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

But Faizal's most arresting piece is one called A Piece of Land. The massive, two-panelled drawing shows, well, a piece of land, with very large vegetation and at a distance, multiple tombstones lining the ground. Not too far from the land, a sapphire blue river flows and upon its bank, Faizal had masterfully woven images of a turtle and a man holding a tombstone, lying along the river.

At first glance, they would have merely looked like rock formations. But a closer look would reveal these somewhat eerie characters. There is an almost melancholic air about the painting.

"This piece is about life and death. Hence the vegetables and the tombstones. But more than that, it acts as a reminder to me that I, or anyone for that matter, should do something good with what life presents to us," said the full-time artist.

In this exhibition, both artists' works may be varied. Their techniques and forms may be worlds apart. However, what resonates the most from this Temu show is the unifying force between both artists asking visitors to appreciate the little and big things in life.

Temu is on at 69 Fine Art Gallery, Jalan Bruas, Damansara Heights in Kuala Lumpur till May 10. Visits are by appointment only. Contact Patrice Vallete (019 3012 569) or visit www.fineart69.com.

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