Jumaat, 9 Mei 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Sweat or shiver no more

Posted: 09 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HOMEGROWN technology could make walking in sweltering outdoor temperatures and working in chilly offices a more comfortable experience.

It involves powder- and fibre-like materials which can be used in clothes.

They can be about as thick as a strand of hair or thinner. These can keep a person cool in warm weather by absorbing body heat and dispersing it.

When the person is in a cold environment, the materials, which are said to be thrice as good as existing products in conducting heat, are able to do the reverse.

The technology was one of several showcased by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) yesterday at its Next-to-the-Skin exhibition at Biopolis in Buona Vista.

Exploit Technologies – the technology commercialisation arm of A*Star – put up the exhibition to go alongside the two-day Startup Asia conference, which ended yesterday.

The conference organised by Tech In Asia, a tech news site, showcased technology start-ups and their products.

By holding its exhibition next to the conference, Exploit hoped to interest companies in A*Star's prototypes and investors in commercialising them.

Radiana Soh, Exploit's assistant vice-president, said the prototypes were developed within a month earlier this year after A*Star scientists met private companies and investors.

The four researchers, led by Dr Shah Kwok Wei, a scientist from A*Star's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, behind the cooling materials are now working with a United States company to incorporate them into hospital beds.

Other possible applications include using the materials in firemen's uniforms, sports attire and hiding soldiers from snipers that track targets using heat signature.

Other prototypes that were exhibited included a pillow that uses optic fibre sensors to monitor sleep patterns.

Similar technology embedded in baby swaddles will also be able to monitor the vital signs of newborns. These products can warn caregivers if something is wrong.

A fashion show of outfits designed by Nanyang Technological University students from the School of Art, Design and Media, and which incorporated some of A*Star's technologies, including the cooling materials, was also held yesterday evening at Biopolis. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Islamic scholar dies at age 88

Posted: 09 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

ISLAMIC scholar and senior religious teacher Ustaz Ibrahim Kassim (pic), who played a key role in helping to rehabilitate terrorists, died yesterday. He was 88.

Ustaz Ibrahim was in the pioneer batch of volunteer Islamic scholars who formed the core of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), which was founded in 2003 to rehabilitate Muslim extremists in Singapore.

He also helped in a big way to develop Singapore's model of religious rehabilitation from scratch, after the 2001 arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah members here.

At the Whitley Detention Centre, he and other Islamic scholars would meet the detainees and address their misinterpretations of Islamic concepts, like jihad.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to the community leader in a condolence letter to his daughter Sakina.

Ustaz Ibrahim championed moderate Islam and worked closely with the government and the Muslim community to counter radical Islamic ideologies propagated by extremist terrorists, Lee wrote.

"He made a special effort to attend my dialogue with the Malay/Muslim leaders on the tudung issue in January, even though he was ill," Lee added.

"I was touched that he subsequently wrote to me to support what I had said about the tudung issue."

Lee also said he met Ustaz Ibrahim, who "was frail, but in good spirits", at the pioneer generation tribute party in February.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said the religious teacher made many contributions, and that he was impressed by his knowledge and humility.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, speaking yesterday at the Al-Khair Mosque in Choa Chu Kang where a prayer session was held before Ustaz Ibrahim was buried, said: "He recognised that the phenomenon (of Islamic extremism) has to be tackled, and if the religious elites do not step forward, then who else is able to?"

Ustaz Ibrahim is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and a great grandson. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Chinese performer suffers for his art

Posted: 09 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

BEIJING: Having one of his own ribs cut out to turn into a necklace, enduring a slashing from neck to thigh – He Yunchang will do anything for art as long as it does not kill him.

The extreme performance artist's head is almost entirely shaved and his face flecked with faint scars from his shows.

His blood-drenched, often naked masochistic displays are intended to demonstrate that some things are worth making sacrifices for.

The 23cm rib he had voluntarily surgically removed as China celebrated the opening day of the Beijing Olympics – on the auspicious, once-in-a-century date of 8/8/08 – hangs around his neck on a gold loop, dragons' heads biting down on either end.

The operation was intended to demonstrate his own individual autonomy, he said, a decision he could take for himself "while many other things are out of my control".

"There are more powerful people in society who make decisions for others, and there are rules and social morality which restrict people," he said late one night in his studio on the outskirts of Beijing, in the raspy voice of a 120-cigarette-a-day smoker.

In one of his latest works, in March he painted the fingernails and toenails of 10 mannequins – with his own blood.

"I want to convey the message that I am ready to pay a high price to show my concern about the world," said the 48-year-old, a married father of one.

"My principle is that, if it's worth the pain, then my safety comes second. But I keep things under control. It is important that I do not let myself die."               

His still photos, paintings and sculptures have been exhibited and sold across Europe and America.

Their popularity derives from his drastic performances, often almost as excruciating for his audiences to watch as they are agonising for him.

In a 2010 performance titled "One Metre Democracy", He gathered 25 people for a poll on whether he should endure a knife gash – without anaesthetic – from his collarbone to his knee.

The idea was approved by 12 to 10, with three abstentions, and a doctor carried out the incision in a procedure that lasted several minutes, with voters posing for a group photo afterward while He lay naked and bloodied on a bed.

The artist has also stared at panels of 10,000 glaring watts of light bulbs to damage his eyesight, encased himself in a cube of quick-setting concrete for 24 hours, and burned his clothes while wearing them.

He once hung upside down from a crane for 90 minutes holding a knife in a rushing river, blood dripping from cuts in his arms made with the blade, in a symbolic mixing of the liquids.

Among his less extreme endeavours, he also carried a stone from a beach in England on a 112-day journey over 3,500km by foot – only to put the travel companion back where he found it.

"He Yunchang is an alchemist of pain," said Judith Neilson, founder of the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney which specialises in contemporary Chinese art.

"He Yunchang evidently believes that pain and extreme discomfort, deliberately planned and willingly undergone, have a transcendent quality – and that it is this quality that raises mere action to the level of art," she said.

His performances "serve as silent rebukes to contemporary Chinese society, where people undergo all kinds of suffering for money precisely because they see money as the ultimate protection against suffering".

Although contemporary art has flourished in China over recent years, the ruling Communist Party maintains tight controls on freedom of expression and only a minority of artists convey political messages with their work.

He has avoided directly confronting the authorities and says: "I generally stay quiet and calm. I don't make waves".

But China's most renowned dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who has faced detention and strict surveillance for his more confrontational work, praises the approach of his friend and neighbour in Caochangdi, an avant-garde artists' community on the outskirts of the capital.

He's art "always has a mix of play, personal history, political message and poetic romance," said Ai.

"Everything that is happening in China today, with development, old structures and Communist doctrines, are all stuck together," Ai continued.

He's work "is trying to pull life out of the ruins".

His performances are not always easy to carry out, and he has run into trouble with officialdom – although in the United States, rather than in China.

In 2005 police thwarted his attempt to stand naked on a rock atop Niagara Falls for 24 hours.

Two years later officers in New York stopped him as he organised a game of mahjong – again naked – using bricks in place of the usual domino-sized tiles.

Several hospitals refused to carry out the rib removal without a medical justification, until he found a willing doctor in his home province of Yunnan, in the southwest.

"This has been my wish for many years," He recalled telling surgeons. "If you can help me realise it, then you're actually helping me, not harming me." — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Terry Crews is the new host of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'

Posted: 08 May 2014 11:50 PM PDT

The actor, who currently stars in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is making his way to the long-running game show.

Terry Crews has given Who Wants To Be A Millionaire his final answer – and the answer is yes.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star has signed on as the new host of the long-running game show for its upcoming 13th season, which will premiere in the United States this fall.

Crews replaces Cedric the Entertainer, who replaced Meredith Vieira last year and bowed out in late April because hosting duties won't fit into his schedule with the show's impending move to Connecticut.

"We are excited to announce that Terry Crews will be taking the reigns as our new host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire next season," said Janice Marinelli, president, Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

"Terry is engaging, endearing, smart, and quick on his feet – the perfect combination to lead one of the longest-running franchises in game show history." Crews will film Millionaire during the summer and on hiatus weeks from his series Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The actor noted that hosting "has always been a dream of mine". "I'm beyond thrilled to be joining Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the Disney-ABC family," Crews said.

"Millionaire is such a beloved franchise and I can't wait to get started as the new host. In addition to my film projects including BlendedBrooklyn Nine-Nine and now being a first time author, hosting has always been a dream of mine, and I couldn't have asked for a greater opportunity."

Meanwhile, Cedric said that he was leaving the game show after "much thought and some series conversations" with studio executives.

"With the many television and film projects that I have going on which shoot and promote in various parts of the country, a production based in Connecticut would make it quite difficult to manoeuvre the many moving parts on my plate," Cedric said in a statement last month.

"So, after much thought and some serious conversations with senior executives at the studio, I decided to let Disney-ABC know that, unfortunately, I'm not able to continue on as host." — Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

FAA: U.S. passenger jet nearly collided with drone in March

Posted: 09 May 2014 08:35 PM PDT

NEW YORK: An American Airlines Group Inc aircraft almost collided with a drone above Florida earlier this year, a near-accident that highlights the growing risk from rising use of unmanned aircraft, the U.S. air safety regulator said.

The pilot reported seeing a small, remote-control aircraft very close to his plane while preparing to land at Tallahassee Regional Airport, said Jim Williams, manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Office.

"The airplane pilot said that the UAS was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Williams said at an industry conference on Thursday, referring to an unmanned aircraft system.

The aircraft, operated by an American subsidiary, did not appear to be damaged when it was inspected after the March 22 incident, Williams said.

But the incident served to highlight the risk of remote-control aircraft, he said.

"The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real," Williams said. "The results could be catastrophic."

The FAA currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted.

Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses.

Two of the centers have started working ahead of schedule.

"The FAA is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace," the agency said in a statement.

The March incident was reported to the Tallahassee control tower by the pilot for Bluestreak Airlines, a US Airways commuter carrier. US Airways is part of American Airlines.

The plane, a Bombardier CRJ-200, was a traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tallahassee.

It was at 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the remote controlled jet. The FAA investigated but could not identify the pilot of the drone.

American said it is "aware of the published report alleging an incident with one of our express flights and we are investigating."

The airline said it would share any information with the FAA and would not comment further.

The incident was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In his address to the Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo in San Francisco, Williams also showed videos of several drone accidents, including one in which a drone crashed into a crowd during the running of the bulls in Richmond, Virginia, last fall.

The crash was caused by a battery failure and resulted in minor injuries, he said.

Williams also noted the "Miracle on the Hudson," in which birds hit the engine of a flight leaving New York, prompting an emergency landing on the river.

"Imagine a metal-and-plastic object, especially that big lithium battery, going into a high-speed turbine engine," he said. – Reuters 

Militants attack presidential palace in mounting Yemen turmoil

Posted: 09 May 2014 07:45 PM PDT

SANAA (Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen attacked Yemen's presidential palace on Friday and tried to kill the defence minister in his car, selecting high profile targets in apparent reprisal for the army's biggest push against militants in nearly two years.

Four soldiers were killed in a gun battle of up to an hour that broke out when militants attacked the main gate of the palace in the capital Sanaa, a security source said.

Sanaa was in lockdown after the gunfight, with checkpoints set up at all the main entrances into the capital.

There was no immediate reaction from any senior Yemeni officials on the attack. State news agency Saba published a brief statement saying three security personnel were killed when a "terrorist group" attacked their patrol vehicle.

An explosion was later heard near a building used by the government's intelligence services in another district of the city, residents told Reuters. There was no immediate word on the cause of the blast.

In the south, Defence Minister Muhammad Nasir Ahmad escaped an assassination bid by suspected al Qaeda gunmen who attacked a his motorcade in the province of Shabwa.

The defence ministry's website later said the shots heard near Ahmad's convoy were celebratory gunfire.

The violence capped a turbulent few days both for Yemen - a country Washington sees as one of the main battlefields in its global campaign against Islamist militants - and for its Western allies.

A French security agent working for the European Union was shot dead in the capital on Monday. Security forces staged raids on suspected militants across the capital on Wednesday and shot dead the man they said was responsible for the Frenchman's killing and for a number of other attacks on Westerners.

Citing recent attacks against Western interests in Yemen, the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa to the public.

The New York Times reported on Friday that two weeks ago, a United States Special Operations commando and a CIA officer shot and killed two armed Yemeni civilians who tried to kidnap them in a barber shop in Sanaa.

The paper, quoting two U.S. senior officials, said the two Americans were whisked out of the country just days after the shooting, with the blessing of the Yemeni government.

Yemeni security forces also arrested two French men believed to be members of an al Qaeda cell in Yemen, an official security source told Reuters on Friday. Paris confirmed that two of its citizens had been detained.

Since late April the government has stepped up its campaign against the Yemeni group considered al Qaeda's most active unit, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), driving it from some of its strongholds in the south.


The push followed air strikes against AQAP in April that the government said had killed at least 55 militants, the biggest against al Qaeda since at least 2012.

The militants have claimed attempted bombings of Western airliners and carried out dozens of bomb and suicide attacks and commando-style raids against military installations, government facilities and foreign nationals.

Saudi Arabia also watches AQAP with concern, since the branch was founded by citizens of both countries and has sworn to bring down the ruling al-Saud family.

In a separate incident on Friday, four soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected al Qaeda fighters in the central province of al-Bayda, tribal sources told Reuters.

In Sanaa, a security source said a vehicle carrying a number of armed militants suspected to be linked to al Qaeda attacked the main gate of the palace.

"Four soldiers at the palace were killed by the militants," the source said.

"There was a gunfight that lasted about 45 minutes and then a few of the militants managed to escape with their car," the source said, adding that there were casualties on both sides.

Security forces in the area were looking for the militants in a nearby public garden, the source said.

The insurgents have posed a challenge to government efforts to restore stability to the U.S.-allied country since veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2012 after months of pro-democracy protests.

Western countries fear that further destabilisation in Yemen, whose government is also being challenged by separatists in the south and unrest in the north, could give more space to AQAP to plot attacks on international targets.

(Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Writing by Amena Bakr and William Maclean; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

South Sudan's rebel leader agrees new ceasefire with president

Posted: 09 May 2014 07:41 PM PDT

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar signed a ceasefire deal on Friday after coming under growing international pressure to end ethnic fighting that has raised fears of genocide.

Friday's deal was made at a meeting in Ethiopia that was the first time the two men had met face-to-face since violence erupted in December following a long power struggle. Kiir and Machar, both Christians, shook hands and prayed together.

The men agreed that a transitional government offered the "best chance" to take the country towards elections next year, though there was no immediate decision on who would be part of an interim administration.

"Now that we have come to our senses ... dialogue is the only answer to whatever problem we had," Kiir said after a signing ceremony in Addis Ababa's presidential palace. "We will continue to move in the right direction."

The truce will take effect within 24 hours and both sides agreed to disengage their forces and refrain from any provocative actions, said Seyoum Mesfin, lead mediator from the regional IGAD grouping.

"Today's agreement to immediately stop the fighting in South Sudan and to negotiate a transitional government could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

A previous ceasefire accord struck in January swiftly fell apart, with each side blaming the other for fighting that has exacerbated deep-rooted tensions between Kiir's ethnic Dink community and Machar's Nuer group.

Western powers had demanded a new deal. Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had both visited the Texas-sized country in the past week, part of a diplomatic push by regional and world leaders still haunted by Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

"I saw with my own eyes last week the stakes and the struggles in a new nation we helped courageous people create. The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long," Kerry added in Friday's statement.

The United States has already slapped sanctions on two commanders on opposing sides of the conflict, a sign of its growing frustration with the leaders of Africa's youngest country, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

Cranking up the pressure ahead of the Friday's meeting, the European Union also threatened sanctions against anyone blocking the peace effort.


Fighting erupted in South Sudan's capital Juba in mid-December between soldiers loyal to Kiir and those backing Machar and quickly spread across the country.

Kiir's government at the time accused Machar of treason - a charge again denied by the rebel leader, who on Friday swapped his military fatigues for a dapper suit.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes. Troops on both sides have committed murder, rape and other sexual abuses, a U.N. report said.

The unrest has caused oil output to be cut by a third to 160,000 barrels per day.

"I had no reason to bring South Sudan to war," Machar told Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and envoys.

Kiir and Machar have been locked in a long-running power struggle that intensified after the president sacked Machar as his deputy in July.

Negotiators from the two sides will now hammer out the terms of an interim government that will guide the country of 10 million people to elections in 2015, the agreement said.

Those discussions may be hard fought. Machar told Reuters in January that Kiir had lost the people's trust and should resign - a demand some in his camp were still making earlier on Friday.

But Kiir's ministers say the president would not quit.

One Western diplomat said there was a push for the peace process to include former political prisoners, the church and local civil society groups.

"You can't leave it to warring guys because then it's basically about who gets what part of the cake," said the Juba-based Western diplomat. "These (talks) are a fundamental review of where the country is going and on what basis."

(Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic in Juba and Sandra Maler in Washington; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

FBM KLCI to range between 1,850-1,870 pts next week

Posted: 09 May 2014 07:47 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) is expected to consolidate sideways next week at between 1,850-1,870 points on interest rate jitters, the tension in Ukraine, a commodities dip and a risk-off vibe across most safe haven assets.

Affin Investment Bank Vice-President/Head of Retail Research Dr Nazri Khan said the stronger than expected US jobs data had spurred the notion that the US Federal Reserve may pursue earlier monetary tightening and dampened down risk-taking sentiment "As for next week's theme, traders should accumulate trading service and resource stocks which did well last week as commodities recover and the ringgit depreciates," he told Bernama.

Overall, Nazri said the local benchmark index is still in the process of consolidating from the February-April gain of 5.8 per cent, driven by rising defensive sentiment and lofty small cap valuation with sector rotation towards more blue chips, large cap oriented names. "While we do not expect the FBM KLCI to experience a 'bull trap' on current weakness, we believe Bursa Malaysia will benefit from regional dips, taking another stab above 1,870 points and resume its upside momentum. "This is despite being overbought over the last three months," he added.

On a week-to-week basis, the FBM KLCI ended 2.6 points weaker on Friday at 1,866.72 points against the 1,869.08 points recorded the previous week.

The Finance Index fell 48.46 points to 17,023.76 points, the Industrial Index dipped 7.57 points to 3,183.29 points, but the Plantation Index soared 89.73 points to 9,152.02 points. The FBM Emas Index declined 29.73 points to 12,903.73 points, the FBMT100 Index slipped 30.95 points to 12,552.18 points and the FBM 70 lost 93.61 points to 14,003.85 points.

But the FBM Ace rose 30.64 points to 6,589.49 points.

Weekly turnover dropped to 6.59 billion shares worth RM8.28 billion, from last week's 7.32 billion shares worth RM6.96 billion. Main market volume increased to 5.85 billion shares valued at RM7.77 billion from 5.22 billion shares valued at RM7.55 billion, recorded last Friday.
Warrant turnover appreciated to 160.61 million units worth RM24.39 million, from 125.77 million units worth RM15.1 million.

The ACE market volume widened to 1.98 billion shares valued at RM468.45 million from 1.92 billion shares valued at RM378.62 million. 

JPMorgan examining its relationship with domestic US banks

Posted: 09 May 2014 07:33 PM PDT

NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase & Co may cut down on its domestic correspondent banking business, as it scans its relationship with several hundred of domestic correspondent banking clients, Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report cited its sources as saying the bank started the review in January and is examining its relationship with domestic correspondent clients, for which it clears payments and processes other transactions.

JPMorgan has stopped soliciting new business from its few hundred clients and has also stopped accepting new clients until the review is complete, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

It said the companies under review include Citigroup Inc <C.N> unit Banamex USA, according to the report. Banamex is already facing investigation by Mexico's National Bank and Securities Commission for fraudulent loans.

JPMorgan and Citigroup could not be reached for comment outside usual U.S. business hours. (http://r.reuters.com/wyw29v)- Reuters

Beats co-founder Iovine could e key Apple deal ingredient

Posted: 09 May 2014 07:30 PM PDT

NEW YORK: When music producer Jimmy Iovine pitched his friend Steve Jobs on a streaming music service in 2003, the Apple founder was unconvinced.

Now, 11 years later, Jobs' successor looks poised to pay generously for a more evolved version of that service, and to bring on board Iovine into the bargain, betting that he can bring Apple some of the same creative flair that has made him a legend in the music business.

Iovine, CEO and co-founder of the Beats headphones and music streaming service Apple is close to buying for $3.2 billion, is best known as the co-founder of Interscope records, a rap music pioneer which has since branched out to include acts like Lady Gaga and U2.

If he does join Apple, the 61-year-old producer could lend a hand to CEO Tim Cook and try to bolster its subscription music services - which have yet to catch fire - as well as at iTunes, which has seen growth in downloads virtually evaporate.

A source familiar with the deal said Iovine would likely leave his record label and join Apple to run Beats, but it hasn't been determined if he would take on a greater role. It also isn't yet clear whether Beats would operate as an independent unit or to whom its executives would report.

After working as a sound engineer for artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Iovine in 1989 co-founded Interscope, which became one of the largest U.S. music labels.

It took a bet on rap music that was controversial at the time, given the music's explicit lyrics. The political uproar eventually prompted Time Warner having to sell the label. It was bought by Universal Music Group, in 1995.

"He's one of these guys that bring intangibles," said Bill Werde, entrepreneur at Guggenheim Digital and former editorial director at Billboard magazine. "Sometimes you need a jolt of energy and Jimmy is certainly a guy who can provide that."

In a Jan 2013 interview with AllThingsD, Iovine said he pitched a subscription service to Apple's Jobs around 2003, but the Silicon Valley icon was not keen on it right away. Still, Iovine is said to be have been close to Jobs and helped him broker deals to co-market products such as a U2-branded iPod and music videos by the rapper 50 Cent holding an iPod.

Iovine founded Beats in 2006 with rapper Dr. Dre and its big, distinctive headphones found wide distribution, including in Apple stores. The brand launched a music streaming service earlier this year.

It remains a fledgling venture although it has gotten attention for what some say is a unique ability to personalize music. Iovine met with Apple CEO Tim Cook in March 2013 to discuss the music service.

Iovine's music industry relationships will be valuable to Apple because they could make licensing for a future streaming service easier.

The company's iTunes' revenue, which includes apps and books in addition to music, has decelerated, with growth dropping below 10 percent in the most recent quarter, according to BTIG Research.

In his own words, Iovine has said he has been "shocked at how culturally inept most consumer electronics companies are."

"Subscription needs a programmer," he told AllThingsD. "It needs culture. And tech guys can't do that. They don't even know who to hire. They're utilities."- Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Gerard Butler drops out of &#39;Point Break&#39; reboot; let&#39;s start re-casting

Posted: 08 May 2014 01:25 AM PDT

As the search for his replacement begins, check out our suggestions.

Gerard Butler is said to have dropped out of the highly-anticipated Point Break remake, citing "creative differences" and "scheduling conflict" as part of the reasons.

Butler was set to star as Bodhi, the surfer-turned-bank robber played by Patrick Swayze in the original 1991 hit, with Luke Bracey as undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah, originally played by Keanu Reeves.

The original Point Break with Keanu Reeves (left) and the late Patrick Swayze.

The reboot is helmed by director Ericson Core from a script by Kurt Wimmer, and is set for a 2015 release.

We're not sure if the studio or director has anyone in mind to replace Butler, but here are our top choices (and a few we hope will NOT be chosen).

Josh Holloway is a natural on the beach...  

Alex O'Loughlin is also used to being on the beach, but we're not sure if he can carry off playing someone named 'Bodhi' though. 

Josh Lucas, anyone?

Matthew McConaughey classic would've been perfect at Bodhi but Matthew McConaughey 2.0, the one who keeps winning awards, may no longer fit the bill. Still... THAT HAIR.

Apparently, Robert Downey Jr is starting to get sick of playing Tony Stark. Will he take on this challenge?  

Robert Pattinson? .... Just kidding.

Shia LaBeouf = NEVER. 

Heh. Just because.

&#39;The Quiet Ones&#39; slowly creeps up on you

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The movie features a doll that you'd not want to cuddle and play with.

Olivia Cooke is doing just fine, though the actress didn't look it in The Quiet Ones.

Ah, the power of movie magic. The Bates Motel star plays Jane Harper, a disturbed young woman who may be possessed by a doll named Evey (short for "Evil"– get it?).

Jane is the subject of "The Experiment" conducted by an unorthodox Oxford University professor played by ex-Mad Men star Jared Harris, who may or may not be a phony. The Quiet Ones is said to be based on actual events – according to production notes, a 1972 Canadian study that attempted to prove that supernatural events are just a state of mind.

"My character had to look dirty, gaunt, hollow, pale and sickly," says Cooke. "It was two hours in the make-up chair just to get my hair that greasy. Jane had to be as 3D as possible."

Harris was impressed by his co-star.

"That was a tough part to play, very draining," he explains. "You have to be in such a dark place all the time – bandaged up, suicidal. After a while, that stuff starts to get you down."

That said, everyone in the cast and crew thought the role of Jane was a star-making opportunity.

"The movie wouldn't work if the absolutely right person wasn't in that spot," Harris says of the 20-year-old doe-eyed brunette. "There was something very special about what she was doing."

As for his character, the 52-year-old London-born actor – screen great Richard Harris' son – relished taking on the randy, chain-smoking Joseph Coupland.

"There are so many layers to him," says Harris, who is also co-starring in an upcoming Poltergeist remake.

"You get to take a ride, because he changes so much throughout the movie. The structure of the story and the way it approached the subject of the supernatural is what really appealed to me. It was juicy!"

Was Coupland based on anyone in particular?

"I think a bit, yes," he admits. "I went to a Catholic boarding school from the age of seven. It was run by Benedictine monks, and there were certainly some interesting teachers there. But at the end of the day, even if you're playing a semi-historical figure, it has to come from an exercise in imagination."

All those cigarettes – not the healthiest prop.

"I think they were an excuse for the cinematographer to create that 1970s-period feel," Harris says, adding, "You could also see how my character was handling a certain level of anxiety, if you like."

Speaking of anxiety, if you live in a house with dolls around, you may want to do a bit of housecleaning after you've seen this flick.

"What is it about dolls? They're babies, which are so innocent but have lifeless eyes," muses Cooke, who remembers being creeped out by a Furby while growing up in Manchester, England.

"Wherever you go, those eyes follow you about the room." — The Miami Herald/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

> The Quiet Ones is playing in cinemas nationwide.

All grown up: Zac Efron is bad to the bone in &#39;Bad Neighbours&#39;

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Zac Efron has come a long way since playing teenage heartthrob Troy Bolton in High School Musical.

Come October, Zac Efron will be celebrating his 27th birthday, making it eight years (and 14 other film projects) since his debut in High School Musical.

In that time, Efron has become far removed from the persona we first encountered in the hit Disney musical, which brought him fame and fortune.

His image took a turn when he entered rehab for alcohol and drug addiction late last year; and just last month he was involved in a tussle with a homeless man, resulting in the actor getting hit in the face.

A recent cover story in The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Efron is keen to concentrate on his career by working hard and leading a more "low-key" lifestyle; he'll just keep the bad boy image for the big-screen.

This is exactly what he does in his latest film, Bad Neighbours. In it he plays Teddy Sanders, a college student, who together with his frat brothers move into a quiet neighbourhood and starts all kinds of trouble, especially for his next-door neighbour Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne).

In an interview transcript provided by United International Pictures, Efron talks about the role.

What made you want to do this film?

Seth Rogen and (director) Nicholas Stoller got in touch with me about the project, and I immediately said yes. It's a dream come true. If I had a fear, it was that Teddy would be a one-dimensional character.

There was a potential for the portrayal of fraternity guys to be that way since they've got a bad reputation, especially with parents. They, of course, do pretty bad things like partying hard, but at the core, the fraternity is built on a brotherhood, a bond.

It's a system of breaking you down to build you up and taking you out of being so self-centred and worrying about yourself and caring for the group as a whole. You learn to work together and everyone helps each other.

Teddy is sort of a leader in that way. I wasn't involved in a fraternity, but I know guys who were. While they've all been as crazy as Teddy in some ways, they're also great guys. They'd take a bullet for you.

The moments that I am really grateful for in the film were the ones where we were able to show Teddy's humanity because he does care about his brothers.

Were those party scenes in the film fun to shoot?

On set, everything was very professional. We would utilise every single element of the party. As soon as we cut, it was down to business with me working on the character and Seth producing. There was a lot to get done and a lot of moving parts, so it was strange. It was a really exciting party that was very tense!

It seems that improvisation played a big part in the film. How much input did you get when shooting a scene, such as the one where Teddy and Pete (Dave Franco) riff off about "bros before hoes?"

Some of the lines were strung together for that particular scene in the film. I don't think we got all of them consecutively like that, but most of that scene was straight improvisation. Some of it didn't even make sense.

We were literally trying to come up with them on the fly. If I ever started to struggle, Dave would whisper something to me and I'd finish it and vice versa.

Then, out of nowhere, Nick or Seth would yell one line from off camera and we'd start laughing.

There's no ego; if you're given something great, you take it.

You get to fight Seth Rogen in the movie, what was that like?

It really was fun to shoot that fight scene. I was looking forward to it. Since we shot that towards the end of the movie, I think we were ready for it. It was all comedic fighting and never that serious. There were some fun stunts as well.

Was it easy finding a rhythm with Seth Rogen?

It was natural working with Seth. I really liked that the relationship evolves because they could have been best friends in another life. I think they're very similar in a lot of ways.

Teddy lives in fear that he'll never really have what Mac has with his family and is looking at the peak of his life. Mac sees all the potential in the world in Teddy, so it's a fun dynamic.

The buddy moments are fun, too. All of the scenes where we're happy together were improvised. We just sat on a couch and talked about things.

What was the most challenging thing to shoot?

Some of the fight scenes with Dave Franco were really difficult. In one scene, it was just supposed to be a simple punch, but when I connected with the wall, I got a boxer's fracture in my hand.

It was the first take, so we still had several hours of shooting to get through. If anyone had found out about my hand, it would have stopped filming for the day, so I didn't tell anybody. We kept filming even though I knew my hand was broken.

Nick was the first one to notice it and asked me if there was something wrong with my hand. By then, it was swollen like a grapefruit. I got surgery that night. That was a hard day!

> Bad Neighbours opens in cinemas today.

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MH370: No one is keeping us informed, say Chinese next-of-kin

Posted: 09 May 2014 06:39 AM PDT

BEIJING: Family members of Chinese passengers onboard the missing Flight MH370 lamented about not being updated on the latest efforts in the search after they left Lido Hotel here on May 2.

Steven Wang claimed that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) had not been in contact with the families via phone calls or emails to provide the latest information.

"For instance, it was reported that the experts would re-analyse the data and information pertaining to the flight. We have to find out about all these from the media.

"The lack of updates make all the family members angry," said Wang, whose mother was on the ill-fated flight.

He said the lack of updates only add to the worries of the families, adding that they stayed at Lido Hotel "not because we wanted to live and eat here for free."

"We were afraid that no one would take the initiative to keep us informed once we retured to our homes," he said.

Some 400 next-of-kin were housed at several hotels in Beijing since the plane went missing on March 8. Lido Hotel was where daily briefing was held.

The family members were notified on May 2 that MAS would stop providing food and accommodation at all hotels.

Wang said MAS should be gathering all relevant information and pass them to the families.

"We have to do it ourselves instead. We take the initiative to keep in touch and share information with each other.

"Those who live far away contact those in Beijing frequently to enquire about updates," he said.

He said MAS has sent out two SMSes to the families, on May 3 and 7, to inform them on the opening of the family support centre at Shunyi district in Beijing, following the closure of the family assistance centre at Lido Hotel.

Certificates to prove that the passengers were onboard the flight were issued to the family members.

However, Jiang Hui, another family member, pointed out that there were mistakes on a few certificates.

"The passengers' names were inaccurate. As far as I am concerned, there have been three of such cases.

"It is troublesome for the families because they have to travel to Shunyi to get it rectified. This reflected carelessness on the part of MAS," he added.

Jiang added that the families hoped to be given the Chinese version of the preliminary report released on May 1.

He said the translation should also be accompanied to help the families understand the report.

"The report was never sent to us. As families, we have the right to be informed first," he said.

On the advanced compensation payment promised by MAS, Wang said he did not understand why the payment would only be made after the families return home.

It was stated in a notice on May 2 that the details of the payment would be announced in two weeks.

Nonetheless, the families said they would find out more about the payment and seek legal advice before accepting the money.

"It is not the time to initiate the payment of compensation. The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, or Montreal Convention, provided that compensation should be given in case of death or injury of passengers.

"In the case of MH370, it is not suitable to issue the compensation payment yet," Jiang said.

The next-of-kin of the passengers and crew onboard the flight has formed a network calling it MH370 Victim Families and Crew Association, or Voice370.

In an open letter signed by family members from China, Malaysia, United States, New Zealand and India, it urged the Malaysian government to release the raw Inmarsat data so that "it can be subject to broader analysis by relevant experts".

"The Inmarsat satellite data is the only lead we have and is key in identifying MH370's flight path after the plane vanished from the civilian radar screens on March 8.

"In view of the lack of ELT activation and zero detected debris, we feel that it is necessary that the data be subject to independent third party review," the letter said.

The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott and Chinese President Xi Jinping, also requested the Joint Agency Coordination Centre to release data of the pings recorded by the towed pinger locator.

Voice370 said it represents 800 family members so far. MAS did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

MH370 disappeared from the radar screen near the Malaysia-Vietnam border after taking off from KL International Airport on March 8.

A multi-nation search and rescure operation is now being conducted at the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is said to have ended its journey.

More stories on MH370

KLIA2: Small inconveniences but running smoothly

Posted: 09 May 2014 06:13 AM PDT

SEPANG: I was due to take a domestic flight out of KLIA2 at 10.20am, and understanding Murphy's Law when it comes to first day blues, I decided to be there way earlier than normal.

I took a Skybus from KL Sentral around 6am, and noted that the bus fare remained the same (RM10 one way).

The journey took 50 mins and we arrived at Level 1 of the swanky terminal a good three hours before my departure.

There were many AirAsia staff on hand to assist travellers at that level, but I only saw MAB staff offering assistance only on Level 2.

I was informed I could take the escalators to Level 3 for departure, or the lift. But here's the catch – the lift only goes to Level 2.

After that, it's a long walk and a series of escalators to get to the check-in area.

This is hardly welcoming, if not downright scary, if you're in a rush.

Naturally, many passengers were grumbling audibly about this.

No problems at all with AirAsia counters as it only took me two minutes to drop off my bag.

Jonson Tan, 24, who was flying off to Manila, said when he was dropped off, he could not see any signs pointing to the check-in area, though he was happy with the check-in process as there was no queue.

Food and beverages proved to be a massive disappointment.

Other than fast food outlets, the other restaurants were quite expensive by the average salaryman's standard.

As this is a terminal for budget flights, shouldn't a food court be in place?

Many of the staff in the area expressed the same disappointment, noting that MAB had promised a food court once AirAsia moved in.

From where I stood, I could see that the immigration people were coping well with the number of travellers on the international departure side.

But apparently, it's still Malaysia Boleh when to comes to toilets. The gents were all waterlogged, and this was only after three days of operations.

My other lament is that there are no electrical sockets at the departure gate area, so make sure your devices are fully charged beforehand – or else, you would have to patronise one of the restaurants there to juice up your device.

Other than these, it was still a very pleasant surprise to see things running smoothly overall.

Liow: MCA did not discuss Cabinet portfolios with PM

Posted: 09 May 2014 05:51 AM PDT

 SEGAMAT: MCA only stated its intention to rejoin the Cabinet and did not raise the issue of portfolios in its discussions with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said party president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said MCA's intention to rejoin the Cabinet was to help the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to be more effective.

As for portfolios, MCA left this to the Prime Minister to decide, said Liow.

"MCA rejoining the cabinet is not for positions but to shoulder the responsibility of working for the people at the grassroots level.

"The Prime Minister has been informed of MCA's desire to be back in the Cabinet. What is important is that MCA plays an effective role in resolving issues and the people'problems," he told reporters after opening SJKC Bukit Siput's arch here.

Liow was commenting on whether MCA had asked for specific portfolios in the Cabinet.

At an extraordinary general meeting prior to the the 13th General Election in May last year, MCA had decided to forego Cabinet posts if it fared poorly in the election but the decision was rescinded by the party post-GE 13. - Bernama

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Singapore Airlines plane headed to Hong Kong from Changi turned back after cargo door problems

Posted: 09 May 2014 05:04 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane to Hong Kong was turned back mid-flight after a cargo door warning light was triggered.

Flight SQ866, an Airbus A380 superjumbo, "was en route from Singapore to Hong Kong when there was a warning light that came on with regards to the cargo door, so the pilot decided to turn back to Singapore," said an SIA spokesman told The Straits Times on Friday.

The cargo door, however, was found closed when the plane landed safely back in Changi at 2:20 p.m. local time, added the spokesman. No one was hurt, and investigations into why the alarm was set off are ongoing.

A replacement aircraft with the same crew took off at 5:18pm, and is expected to arrive in Hong Kong at 8:40 p.m., more than three and a half hours after the original scheduled arrival time. - ANN/Straits Times

Japan to export robot cat Doraemon to US

Posted: 09 May 2014 12:53 AM PDT

TOKYO, May 09, 2014 (AFP) - One of Japan's most popular cartoon creations, Doraemon, a robot cat from the future with a magic pocket and a portal to anywhere, is to make his debut on US TV this year, officials said Friday.

TV Asahi, which partially owns the rights to the character, has reached an agreement with Disney to air a version dubbed into English, said a spokeswoman with the Japanese broadcaster.

The cartoon has been broadcast in Japan for decades and has captivated children across Asia, but it will be his first foray in English into the American market, she said.

The US media giant is to air 26 episodes of the animation, amending storylines, character names and gadgets to suit US viewing tastes.

Doraemon, a dumpy blue feline with a round head, was sent back in time from the 22nd century by a young boy who wanted to change his family's fortunes.

His magic pocket provides an endless supply of fantastical gadgets that help his young friend Nobita Nobi navigate the trials of everyday life.

Created by artist Fujiko F. Fujio, the character first appeared in manga strips in 1969, making the transition to small and big screen over the following decades.

Doraemon remains enormously popular in Japan, serving as an instantly recognisable cultural reference across generations.

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Just for laughs: Return of the PJ Laugh Fest

Posted: 07 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The PJ Laugh Fest returns for its fifth instalment with lots of live humour and whacky acts.

This year's edition of the PJ Laugh Fest will feature a Bahasa Malaysia romantic comedy and a stand-up show.

Making its debut as a full production is Teater Awek Chuck Taylor (May 24-25), based on a true story about a loser called Hafiz and his budding relationship with hipster girl Mira. He attempts to be a playboy and eventually gets trapped in a love triangle.

PJ Laugh Fest will roll out at the PJ Live Arts festival venue at Block K at Jaya One, Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya in Selangor.

Back to Teater Awek Chuck Taylor, this stage adaptation of Nomi Nozwir's (who goes by his pen name Nami Cobb Nobler) best-selling novel was performed to sold-out houses earlier this year at a workshop production. The book has sold more than 30,000 copies since it was published in 2011.

Produced by Rumah Anak Teater (Rat), the rom-com will be performed in Bahasa Malaysia, without subtitles.

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is an unusual and loosely scripted tribute to the BBC television series.

A meal with a difference: Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is an unusual and loosely scripted tribute to the BBC television series.

"The language used is very simple so audience need not worry that they won't understand the dialogue. It uses colloquial Malay, which every youngster is familiar with, especially in the social media circuit.

"Everyone can relate to the storyline because something is bound to touch you," says executive producer Faisal Mustaffa.

Directed by Elza Irdalynna, it stars Along Eyzendy, Inessa Irdayanty and Soefira Jaafar. In the past, Rat has often been associated with serious theatre and artsy stuff so this is their foray into comedy.

"When we were approached to do the play, we were not very confident of staging a comedy. But then, we said why not, let's try it! Surprisingly, it was a sold-out affair," Faisal adds.

Besides Teater Awek Chuck Taylor, there will also be Cerita Malam Jumaat (May 29), a stand-up featuring political activist Hishamuddin Rais, Rayza Mukmin and Benjy. However, because of the sensitive content of the show, only those 18 and above are allowed.

The line-up at PJ Laugh Fest 2014 includes a wider repertoire of comedies, from multi-lingua interactive comedy to immersion dining, farcical whodunits and puppetry.

Awek Chuck Taylor executive producer Faisal Mustaffa.

Awek Chuck Taylor executive producer Faisal Mustaffa.

"In a world of increasing digitisation, automation, computerisation and technological advances, it is often easy to forget that shared laughter is still an incredibly potent primal experience, which allows us to discover and engage the humorous nature of our humanity," says Diong Chae Lian, the executive director of PJ Live Arts.

One of the highlights of this year's fest is Faulty Towers The Dining Experience (May 14 to June 1).

Featuring gags and a meal, this unusual immersion of theatre is a loosely scripted tribute to the BBC television series made famous by comic actors John Cleese, Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs.

For two hours, audience will enjoy a three-course meal served by the characters Sybil, Basil and Manuel.

It's a chaotic situation because one character is neurotic; the other is domineering while the third is language-challenged.

Another headlining show is Making S#it Up featuring Harith Iskander and his cohorts (May 21-22) comprising Jit Murad, Phoon Chi Ho, Douglas Lim, Kuah Jenhan, Keren Bala Devan, Rizal van Geyzel and Kavin Jay.

Expect rib-tickling moments when the bunch lashes out some combustible sketches, improvisations and bubbly humour.

In Manila Madness (May 18), Filipino comedians Alex Calleja, Victor Anastacio and G.B.Labrador go all out to prove that their nation is not just about domestic helpers and hotel lounge bands.

Performed in English with thick Filipino accent, the producers urge you to: "come laugh, clap, cheer and perhaps, treat your Filipino maid to a little comedy respite".

Now in its fifth year, PJ Laugh Fest kicks off on May 14 and will conclude on June 1. Among the remaining highlights are Projek Disco Baldi (May 15-18), Scary Cheap (May 15), Andrew Netto Horsing Around (May 17), Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones (May 24-26) and Shear Madness (May 28 to June 14).

During the festival period, MyTeksi users will get a RM10 discount on the fare when travelling to the show venue in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

For information and tickets, call 017-228 9849 or log onto www.tix.my. Show schedules at www.pjlivearts.my.

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Singapore Airlines plane headed to Hong Kong from Changi turned back after cargo door problems

Posted: 09 May 2014 05:04 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane to Hong Kong was turned back mid-flight after a cargo door warning light was triggered.

Flight SQ866, an Airbus A380 superjumbo, "was en route from Singapore to Hong Kong when there was a warning light that came on with regards to the cargo door, so the pilot decided to turn back to Singapore," said an SIA spokesman told The Straits Times on Friday.

The cargo door, however, was found closed when the plane landed safely back in Changi at 2:20 p.m. local time, added the spokesman. No one was hurt, and investigations into why the alarm was set off are ongoing.

A replacement aircraft with the same crew took off at 5:18pm, and is expected to arrive in Hong Kong at 8:40 p.m., more than three and a half hours after the original scheduled arrival time. - ANN/Straits Times

Japan to export robot cat Doraemon to US

Posted: 09 May 2014 12:53 AM PDT

TOKYO, May 09, 2014 (AFP) - One of Japan's most popular cartoon creations, Doraemon, a robot cat from the future with a magic pocket and a portal to anywhere, is to make his debut on US TV this year, officials said Friday.

TV Asahi, which partially owns the rights to the character, has reached an agreement with Disney to air a version dubbed into English, said a spokeswoman with the Japanese broadcaster.

The cartoon has been broadcast in Japan for decades and has captivated children across Asia, but it will be his first foray in English into the American market, she said.

The US media giant is to air 26 episodes of the animation, amending storylines, character names and gadgets to suit US viewing tastes.

Doraemon, a dumpy blue feline with a round head, was sent back in time from the 22nd century by a young boy who wanted to change his family's fortunes.

His magic pocket provides an endless supply of fantastical gadgets that help his young friend Nobita Nobi navigate the trials of everyday life.

Created by artist Fujiko F. Fujio, the character first appeared in manga strips in 1969, making the transition to small and big screen over the following decades.

Doraemon remains enormously popular in Japan, serving as an instantly recognisable cultural reference across generations.

Indonesia races to count parliamentary poll results

Posted: 08 May 2014 11:23 PM PDT

JAKARTA: Indonesian officials raced against time Friday to finish counting votes from last month's legislative polls before a midnight deadline, as fears grew the announcement of the results may have to be delayed.

The final results are expected to confirm earlier unofficial tallies showing the main opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) won the biggest share of the vote, but with less support than expected.

The April 9 elections set the stage for presidential polls in July, and the PDI-P's candidate, popular Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, is the favourite to become the next leader of the world's third-biggest democracy.

However concerns were mounting Friday that officials might not finish the mammoth task of counting votes from across the world's biggest archipelago nation before the deadline, which is set down in law.

If that becomes a realistic prospect as midnight approaches, officials and party members said they might have to apply to the president for an extension, which requires a special government order.

"We hope we can finish the process tonight but of course if we can't, the (election) commission will have to file a request for the government regulation," said Ahmad Yani, who was representing the United Development Party during the vote-count.

Officials had still not finished counting votes from seven of 33 provinces by midday Friday, while witnesses from the 12 competing parties were reporting numerous alleged violations, including suspected vote-buying and falsifying results.

An election commission spokesman said that results in some provinces were not ready due to disputes, while in others the process had simply taken longer than expected.

However a senior commission official, Ferry Kurnia Rizkiyansyah, said he was "optimistic" the counting would be finished in time.

"There are still some issues to be resolved with seven provinces, but we are getting through them," he told AFP.

Unofficial tallies released on election day, which have accurately predicted poll results in the past, showed the PDI-P with around 19 percent of the vote, in the lead but with a lower share of the vote than expected.

This means the party will likely have to form a larger than expected coalition to put forward a presidential candidate and ensure enough support at July 9's election.

A party needs to win 25 percent of the national vote or 20 percent of seats in the lower house of parliament to nominate a presidential candidate.

Intense coalition-building negotiations have been going on in recent weeks, and the PDI-P has already won backing from the small NasDem party.

The final results are also expected to confirm that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party lost around half its support following a string of corruption scandals. -AFP

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