Tuesday, 7 July 2015

6 fun news facts about the wizarding world OF HARRY POTTER

I consider myself a true Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all the books (multiple times), cherish all the films and have been known to sport a burgundy and gold lanyard around the office (go Gryffindor!). You can imagine my excitement when a few months after grand opening, we’re sharing some new stats about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
Check out these golden nuggets…or shall I say Galleons!
Entrance to Diagon Alley
Number of bricks in the entrance to Diagon Alley: 7,456 bricks – and together, the bricks weigh more than 37,000 pounds!
Number of times the Gringotts dragon has breathed fire: The Ukrainian Ironbelly has breathed fire more than 15,000 times since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley officially opened.
Dragon Fire
Temperature of the dragon’s fire: 3,560 degrees Fahrenheit (1,960 degrees Celsius). That’s more than 16 times hotter than boiling water!
Number of crystals in the chandeliers within the lobby of Gringotts bank: The four chandeliers include nearly 62,000 crystals.
Magical Menagerie
Number of mythical creature species inside the Magical Menagerie: 13 different types of creatures, including Kneazles (like the one in the photo), Demiguises and Graphorns.
Hogwarts Express
Number of passengers who travelled aboard the Hogwarts Express: More than 5 million guests have travelled aboard the Hogwarts Express since Diagon Alley officially opened.
What’s your favorite memory to date from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley? Join the conversation and tell us by using #DiagonAlley in your next post!

Japan’s Kyushu Electric begins loading reactor fuel

The Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Atomic fuel is being loaded into the reactor as its operator prepares to restart operations despite widespread public opposition to the technology. The reactor is to become the first one to go back on line after two years of hiatus following the tsunami-sparked disaster at Fukushima in 2011. – AFP pic, July 7, 2015.
Kyushu Electric Power Co started loading uranium fuel rods into a reactor on Tuesday, marking the first attempt to reboot Japan's nuclear industry in nearly two years after the sector was shutdown following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been pushing to bring some of the country's reactors back online, arguing they are key to economic growth, but opinion polls show a consistent majority oppose restarts, even though power bills have risen as utilities use expensive liquefied natural gas to generate power.

Loss-making Kyushu, the monopoly supplier on a southwestern island of the same name, says starting the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear station would help it reduce costs incurred from burning fossil fuels by about US$60 million (RM228.75 million) a month.

Fuel loading at the Sendai No. 1 reactor began a little after 0430 GMT on Tuesday, Kyushu said in statement.

The company will load 157 fuel assemblies into the 890-megawatt reactor by Friday, after which regulators will make final checks, spokesman Tomomitsu Sakata told Reuters.

Kyushu, which reported a fourth year of losses for the 12 months ended March, expects to begin starting up the reactor around mid-August, he added.

It also aims to have the 890-megawatt No. 2 reactor running by mid-October. With both reactors operating, Kyushu will save about 15 billion yen (RM466 million) in fuel costs per month, Sakata said, adding that the savings would come mainly from using less oil and LNG.

The reactors will generate about 1.3 billion kilowatt hours of power per month when fully operational, Sakata said.

Kyushu Electric's shares closed 6.3% higher on Tuesday, tracking gains in other utilities.

Hurdles, however, remain before the Sendai nuclear plant starts running, including possible failure of equipment that have not been used for more than four years. Further restarts at other reactors also face obstacles, including strong opposition among local residents and authorities and court injunctions.

Kyushu was initially expecting to start up the Sendai plant in late July, but then it postponed the restart, saying operational checks of some facilities would end later than previously announced.

Opinion polls show consistent opposition to nuclear power among Japan's public, even after electricity bills rose in the wake of the disaster.

The closure of Japan's reactors caused tens of billions of dollars in losses at utilities as they resorted to importing more fossil fuels for power generation and paid for upgrades to meet tightened safety rules. – Reuters, July 7, 2015.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

American Pie manuscript up for sale

Don McLean reveals secrets behind American Pie

Original manuscript of iconic song expected to fetch up to $1.5m at auction in New York and includes lost ending, describing how “the music was reborn”

Christie's auction house in New York is selling Don McClean's American Pie manuscript
Christie's auction house in New York is selling Don McClean's American Pie manuscript

Singer-songwriter Don McLean is selling his original manuscript and notes to American Pie for an estimated 1-1.5 million dollars (£675,000-£1 million)

The wistful anthem that asks "Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?" is going on the auction block today.

Christie's in New York says McLean is selling 16 pages that include the original working manuscript and typed drafts of the song.

The eight-minute American Pie was released in 1971 and was a No 1 US hit for four weeks in 1972.

"The day the music died" refers to the February 3 1959 deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash.

McLean, 69, who lives in Maine, says writing the song was "a mystical trip into his past".

Press Association

Don McLean has finally revealed the meaning behind his 1971 hit American Pie, one of the most enigmatic songs in pop history.

In notes that accompany the sale of his original manuscript at auction in New York on Tuesday, he describes it as a morality song that charts the decline of the USA and its loss of innocence.

While details of the lyrics have long been guessed – taking as its starting point his reaction to hearing in 1959 that Buddy Holly had died in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper on “the day the music died” – few have confidently decoded the riddle in its complex verses and scattershot cultural references.

Now, with his handwritten pages expected to fetch up to $1.5 million at Christie's, he has explained almost all.

“Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction,” he said in an interview published in the auction catalogue.

“It is becoming less idyllic. I don't know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.”

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals as Real Madrid thrashed Granada 9 - 1


Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals, including a first-half hat-trick, as Real Madrid thrashed Granada at the Bernabeu.

The world player of the year's first three came within eight minutes following Gareth Bale's opener, putting Real 4-0 up at the break.

Ronaldo's fourth came in the second half between two from Karim Benzema.

Robert Ibanez reduced the arrears before Diego Mainz's own goal, with Ronaldo heading his fifth late on.
The ex-Manchester United forward scored five in a game for the first time, helping put Real one point behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, who have played a game less, while improving their goal difference.

Granada, 19th in the table, withstood Real until the 24th minute when Bale rounded the goalkeeper to put the Champions League holders ahead.

By half-time Ronaldo had his fifth hat-trick of the league season, and his 24th in La Liga, drawing level with Barca rival Lionel Messi.

Benzema's pair and Ronaldo's fourth came in a five-minute spell early in the second half, while Ibanez's consolation proved almost worthless when Mainz's mistake and Ronaldo's late header emphasised the gulf between the two sides.

World's Most Dangerous Trail Reopens After 15 Years

PHOTO: Journalists take pictures as they walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
One of the world's scariest hikes is reopening for travelers.

El Caminito del Rey is a 5-mile-long path that takes four to five hours to complete, according to the trail's website.

The walkway takes you through the incredibly steep El Chorro gorges on thin boardwalks.

It is almost 100 years old -- originally opened in 1921 by King Alfonso XIII, according to the website. The walkway just reopened last week, however, after being closed for 15 years and undergoing almost $2.5 million worth of renovations.

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
Jon Nazca/Reuters

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.

While the pathway is in a gorgeous natural setting, the site warns potential visitors of the dangerous conditions.

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
Jon Nazca/Reuters

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.

"The boardwalks and a hanging footbridge that stands at 105 metres height, as well as steep walls, make many visitors feel inevitably dizzy," it says.

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
Jon Nazca/Reuters

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.

They call the path "risky" and "hazardous," because of the steep heights and narrow parts.

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
Jon Nazca/Reuters

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.

"Visitors are not risking their lives at all, but they must be aware of the strong impression this place might make on them," the site says.

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The Kings Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.
Jon Nazca/Reuters

PHOTO: Journalists walk along the new Caminito del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) in El Chorro-Alora, near Malaga, southern Spain March 15, 2015.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Malaysia Government backed exhibition of Hindu temples & gods touring Malaysia

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, an exhibition supported by Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism & Culture and displaying Hindu temples and gods is touring various cities of Malaysia.

Titled "Grandeur of Chola Temples of India" (Higher than earth, Bigger than the sky), it is currently showing at National Visual Arts Gallery of Kuala Lumpur, where it will continue till March 28. Then it will be displayed in Georgetown’s Penang Town Hall from April four to 12, at Ipoh’s Rayan Cultural Hall from April 17 to 26, and at Sungai Petani in May.

Said to be first of its kind in Malaysia, it is organized by India’s Ministry of Culture and created by American Institute of Indian Studies in cooperation with Malaysia’s National Visual Arts Gallery. This exhibition of photographs shows Hindu temples and statues of Hindu deities created from 9th to 11th century during Chola dynasty rule in India.

Applauding Malaysia government for supporting Hinduism focused exhibition, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that governments of other nations should also patronize Hinduism focused displays, thus sharing the rich Hindu heritage, concepts and traditions with their populace. It was a step in the right direction for Malaysia government, Zed added.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also commended Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for joining in Hindu Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves Hindu shrine near Kuala Lumpur on February three, thus sending signals of inclusiveness and harmony in the Malaysian society.

Rajan Zed urged Najib to do more for the minority ethnic Indian community of Malaysia so that they did not feel left out in south-east Asia’s most vibrant economies and had their share in the fruits of its decades of industrial growth. Hindus had contributed significantly to the building and development of Malaysia, Zed noted.

Zed stressed the urgent need of empowering the Hindu community through various means; including creating helpful business environment for them, better equipping the entrepreneurs, providing more seats in higher-education institutions, etc.

Rajan Zed also welcomed Najib’s reported calls in the past of inter-religious dialogue. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, Zed pointed out.

Zed stated that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Religion was a powerful and complex component of human life so we must take it seriously. A more inclusive and broader understanding of religion was needed, Zed indicated.

Rajan Zed further urged Najib to organize and preside over an annual dialogue session in capital Kuala Lumpur with leaders of all the existing religions in Malaysia and formulate a strategy of strengthening cohesiveness and unity among various communities in a diverse Malaysia.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Enough of Anwar Ibrahim, move on!

Of late, the antics and demands of the left-wing party, in particular the Parti Keadilan Rakyat have grown a tad too dramatic and inappropriate, if I may say.

By now almost anyone familiar with the country's political landscape knows the Anwar's supporters tale: one that revolves around their demand for the jailed leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be granted permission to attend Parliament sessions and the rallies of #KitaLawan, organised in solidarity of the Permatang Pauh MP. At one glance, these strategies are seen merely to inform the world what an unjust and corrupted country Malaysia is.

They had also complained that Anwar's sleep is affected by mosquitoes, poor quality mattress and squat toilets at the Sungai Buloh prison, where Anwar is serving his five-year sentence for sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Azlan Bukhari.

What did you expect, PKR?

The street demonstrations for Anwar, whom they claim was wrongfully judged is one thing but expecting special preferences to be given to him, is another matter altogether.

KitaLawan rally

The #KitaLawan rally held on March 7, 2015

Worse, they also want Anwar to be allowed to attend the Parliament sitting from March 9 to Apr 9 as he is still a lawmaker.

Section 31(1)(a) of the Prisons Act 1995 provides for the commissioner-general to order, in writing, a prisoner to be taken to any place in Malaysia, after being satisfied that there are reasonable grounds requiring the presence of the prisoner at that place.

Why don’t you guys ask for Anwar to be allowed to return home for special days like Hari Raya and his birthday while you are at it?

Before anyone accuse me of being a BN supporter or anti-Anwar, let me be clear here. This has nothing to do with political allegiance. Most Malaysians are to some extent, sympathetic towards what has transpired over the years to Anwar Ibrahim’s family, ever since he was removed as the deputy Prime Minister in 1998.

We do understand the pain and suffering of his wife and children, knowing that their father is not well and being behind bars when the 67-year-old should be with his family, enjoying his days with his grandchildren.

And also the shame that came with his conviction that he committed sodomy, a serious offence under the Islamic laws.

No doubt, Anwar’s conviction came under severe criticism from various organisations, both locally and from abroad and his supporters talk about political conspiracy to kill Anwar’s career.

Anwar was sent to prison on Feb 10, after a seven-year trial. Nightly vigil outside the Sungai Buloh prison were held and later the Opposition began its street demonstrations and demands for better facilities for him.

Instead of focusing solely on one man – Anwar Ibrahim and his needs, can the Opposition pact start acting and behaving like a proper coalition?

The sympathy towards one man is not enough to swing the votes.

Instead of harping on Anwar and his woes, perhaps the PKR-DAP-PAS coalition can start talking about economic reforms, improving livelihoods, exposing corruption and corrupt practices. It can also tell the people what it can do to bring the country to greater heights.

Anwar Ibrahim may be seen as a Nelson Mandela to many young and new voters but let’s not forget the older generation of voters who generally do not vote based on emotions alone.

To the Opposition pact, you have made your point. Now let’s move on.

Malaysians want veteran politicians to step down, survey shows

One out of two Malaysians wants veteran politicians from both sides of the divide to give up their positions of power and make way for younger leaders, a survey commissioned by The Malaysian Insider has found.

The survey on Malaysia's future leadership by independent pollster Merdeka Center found that 62.6% of the 1,008 respondents agreed that opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should step down and give way for younger leaders to head the party.

Also, 58.3% of the Malaysians polled said DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang should resign, followed by Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak (49.7%), PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (46.6%) and Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (42.5%).

“The general sentiment is that all of them should go and make way for the younger leaders. It’s only the hardcore supporters who want these personalities to stay on,” Ibrahim Suffian, the director of Merdeka Center, told The Malaysian Insider.

“Most of the younger voters want younger leaders, because the older guys are associated with infighting and criticising, without offering solutions,” he said, citing the protracted debate on hudud between DAP and PAS as an example.

The survey revealed that Anwar, now in jail after being convicted for sodomy, was the most unpopular among the Malays, with 71.2% saying they wanted him to go, compared to 50.3% of Chinese and 48.1% of Indian respondents.

Lim was only slightly less popular than Anwar among the Malays, with 68.7% agreeing that he should step down, compared to 45.4% Chinese and 35.3% Indians.

Ibrahim said while Malaysians sympathised with Anwar, they still felt the 67-year-old should step down and give room for younger leaders to bring PKR to greater heights.

"Anwar is a polarising figure because over the years he has been criticised for his actions and been subjected to intense media treatment over a decade. Because of that, many people either love him or hate him," said Ibrahim.

"A lot of people who know and support him are those who participated in the reformasi demonstration years ago."

In contrast, many young voters today did not know Anwar very well, particularly his contributions while in the government, and may not have a sense of political awareness, said Ibrahim.

DAP's Lim, meanwhile, is one of the longest-serving politicians in Malaysia. He was elected as the party's national organising secretary in 1966, and became a lawmaker in 1969.

The survey found that while more Malaysians wanted Hadi to stay compared to Lim and Anwar, this was largely because he received slightly more support from Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters.

But among Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters, 52.5%, 51.3% and 47% wanted Anwar, Hadi and Lim to resign, respectively.

Meanwhile, more than half of Barisan Nasional supporters wanted Najib (56.8%) and Muhyiddin (59.2%) to stay in power, which helped boost their overall figures.

But among the non-Malays, the two were deeply unpopular, with just 10.3% Chinese and 9.8% Indians saying Muhyiddin should stay on, and only 11.9% Chinese and 15.6% Indians wanting Najib to remain in power.

‎Among the Malays, however, Najib and Muhyiddin were more popular: 41.7% and 49.1% disagreed with the Umno president and deputy president stepping down, respectively.

“Among BN, there is strong loyalty towards the top leaders because they get handouts. In contrast, Pakatan Rakyat leaders can’t really afford to give much to their supporters,” said Ibrahim.

“But overall, you can see that the electorate are moving beyond politics of personalities and looking at what politicians are delivering: better economic policies, better relations with the people, giving them hope and not fear.”

The survey involved 1,008 respondents of voting age, who were interviewed by telephone from January 21-30 and chosen through the random stratified sampling method along the lines of ethnicity, gender, age and parliamentary constituencies.

All parliamentary constituencies were surveyed and the selection of the respondents is proportional with respect to the population. – March 12, 2015.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Will Obama assist democracy in Malaysia?

By Anwar Ibrahim 
April 25, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim leads Malaysia’s Justice Party, known as PKR. He served as deputy prime minister from 1993 to 1998.

For 15 years, the people of Malaysia have been immersed in our own Arab Spring. After enduring a corrupt and authoritarian regime for more than five decades, an era has emerged in which we are standing up for our rights.

For the first time in our history, the voices of reform and democracy represent the majority. In last year’s general election, the popular vote in favor of the opposition would have swept from power the authoritarian regime of Najib Razak and the party that has ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957. In its place would have been the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance), poised to push the nation on the path to greater freedom and democracy. Alas, widespread fraud and devious gerrymandering perpetrated by the ruling party, a situation the White House noted, affected the outcome. A study conducted by Harvard ranked Malaysia as having one of the worst records on electoral integrity in the world.

Despite this setback, the Malaysian people have remained steadfast. Despite anger and frustration over our government’s continued corruption and abuse of power, we have pursued a peaceful approach to educating and engaging with the masses. Thousands have come to hear our message and embrace our cause.

President Obama’s visit to Malaysia this weekend comes at a pivotal time. It would be an opportune moment to live up to the ideals Obama espoused in his campaign and the early days of his administration. Then, there was hope that U.S. engagement with Muslim countries would be based on mutual respect and mutual interest. Yet as the Arab Spring came and went, hope was eclipsed by disappointment. It is baffling that the United States can talk about a democratic transition in Egypt today as hundreds of innocent people are sentenced to death while thousands languish in prison.

In Malaysia, there is an opportunity to take a different path.

Our agenda for Malaysia is straightforward. We envision a nation that enforces the rule of law; a country where judges are independent of executive influence, the media are free and the election commission conducts its affairs unfettered by the dictates of the ruling party. We would fight corruption by guaranteeing the independence of the Anticorruption Commission and removing the laws that make government procurements opaque.

In our Malaysia, all media would be independent and free to shine sunlight on excesses of power, be they in government or the private sector. Most certainly we would repeal draconian laws, such as the Sedition Act, so they cannot be used to muzzle political opponents. In our pursuit of a robust and dynamic economy, social justice principles would prevail over unfettered accumulation of wealth by the rich and powerful. Rent-seeking projects would no longer be allowed to be masqueraded as infrastructure spending, nor would the misappropriation of state funds be permitted under the guise of subsidy cuts while higher and higher taxes are foisted on the middle and lower classes to pay the bills.

In tending to the needs of all races, the Pakatan Rakyat envisions a pluralistic society in which moderate Islam coexists harmoniously with other faiths whose espousal is a fundamental liberty under the federal constitution. It would be a far cry from the diabolical politics of the ruling party, which purveys to the Western world its facade of moderation in religious and race relations while pursuing a policy of race baiting and incitement to religious hatred — abuses widely documented by groups including Suaram and Human Rights Watch. With the print and electronic media under the regime’s full control, rumors are spread about an imminent government takeover by Christians, threats of violence are hurled against non-Muslims, Bibles are seized and bishops get hauled in by the police for interrogation. My address to a congregation in a Catholic church one Sunday was condemned as an act of apostasy.

No doubt Malaysia’s media will shower praises on the regime in the wake of Obama’s visit. Malaysia has descended to 145th place on the Reporters Without Borders index of media freedom, so it takes some effort for Malaysians to get the truth. And the truth is that the U.S. pivot to Asia should not merely be about trade and investment or the creation of alliances of the world’s great powers, important as these goals may be. The values of freedom and democracy must remain paramount, and even if Wilsonian idealism appears to be on the wane, Jeffersonian ideals still resonate with the people in this part of the world.

Malaysia’s political backslide

By Editorial Board 

SEVERAL YEARS ago it appeared that Malaysia, which has been ruled by the same party since it achieved independence in 1957, might be on the verge of a soft transition to democracy. Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to dismantle preferences favoring ethnic Malays, reduce police powers, repeal a repressive anti-sedition law and promote free and fair elections. He mostly stayed on course until 2013, when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim led a multiethnic coalition to a popular-vote victory in national elections. The ruling United Malays National Organization clung to power only because of the gerrymandering of parliamentary seats.

Mr. Najib has since launched a campaign aimed at crippling the opposition — a crackdown that reached its peak Tuesday with the sentencing of Mr. Anwar to five years in prison. It was a major regression for a country that values its strategic partnership with the United States, and it was the continuation of a bad trend in Southeast Asia, following the military coup that toppled Thailand’s democratic government last year.

The criminal case used to imprison Mr. Anwar, who has been one of the foremost advocates of liberal democracy in the Muslim world, was as morally reprehensible as it was farcical. The opposition leader was charged with sodomy, which is still illegal in Malaysia but is rarely prosecuted. The 67-year-old married grandfather denied the charge, and the case against him was thin enough to be dismissed by a court in 2012. That Mr. Najib’s government managed to have that decision reversed by an appeals court and upheld by the Supreme Court demonstrated only that Malaysia still lacks an independent judiciary.

Mr. Najib has not limited his repression to Mr. Anwar. In recent months, dozens of activists have been charged under the same anti-sedition law that the prime minister promised to repeal. On Tuesday, police detained a famous cartoonist and announced that they were investigating two opposition members of Parliament because of tweets protesting Mr. Anwar’s conviction.

At the United Nations in September, President Obama decried such “relentless crackdowns” and promised “an even stronger campaign to defend democracy.” Sadly, the administration’s response to the Anwar conviction suggests the opposite. While saying that the United States was “deeply disappointed ” by the verdict and that it raised “serious concerns about rule of law,” a White House statement undercut those sentiments by affirming that “we remain committed to expanding our cooperation on shared economic and security challenges” with Malaysia.

Mr. Najib, who was invited to play golf with Mr. Obama in December, is unlikely to take the president’s “campaign to defend democracy” seriously unless it consists of more than such carefully balanced statements. One way to send a message would be to withhold the invitation to visit Washington that the prime minister is hoping for this year. A leader who has just jailed his main opponent should not be received at the White House.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Turkish uranium project shows strong economics

Anatolia Energy expects to start full-scale development at Temrezli before the end of 2015 after a pre-feasibility study (PFS) revealed better-than-expected economics for the high-grade uranium project in eastern Turkey.
Temrezli exploration - 460 (Anatolia)

The independent PFS was carried out by Tetra Tech and confirmed the proposed in situ leach (ISL) project to be technically low risk as well as highly profitable. Based on the development of the deposit's measured and indicated resources, which total 11.3 million pounds U3O8 (4347 tU), plus the development of some 80% of Temrezli's 2 million pounds U3O8 (769 tU) of inferred resources, the PFS foresees a total output of 9.9 million pounds U3O8 (3808 tU) over a mine life of 12 years, at a cash operating cost of $16.89 per pound U3O8. The initial capital cost for developing the site would be $41 million, with project payback within the first 11 months of operation.

According to Australian Anatolia, the figures will position it as one of the world's lowest cost uranium producers.

The company plans to construct a central processing plant at Temrezli, with an annual capacity of 1.2 million pounds U3O8 (462 tU). The plant could also process uranium-loaded resin from future satellite operations such as the nearby Sefaatli project, where Anatolia is about to start the second phase of a drilling program which should lead to initial resource estimates.

Temrezli is about 200 km east of the Turkish capital Ankara, and the project will benefit from existing local infrastructure including roads and power lines. Anatolia describes the estimated $7.3 million cost of life-of-mine infrastructure as small relative to other ISL uranium projects. The company hopes to further reduce up-front costs by using Turkish plant suppliers where possible.

Anatolia CEO Paul Cronin noted that the test work completed during the PFS had seen many upgrades to the project since a preliminary economic assessment was completed in 2014, leading to better financial returns than previously anticipated. "The strong economics of the project, even at today's term uranium price provides a robust foundation," he said.

With an operation licence already in hand, Anatolia now needs to complete an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) before applying for an operation permit. The ESIA is already in preparation, with the first stage expected to be submitted for approval by the end of February.

Subject to finance, Anatolia expects that full-scale development will begin this year and says it plans to begin some pre-development activities immediately.

Turkey currently imports much of its energy, but work on its first nuclear power plant is expected to begin later this year. The Akkuyu plant, which will eventually comprise four Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactors, is to be built, operated and financed by Russia's Rosatom.

Economic growth could have been only within the 2%-3%

By Ramon Navaratnam

Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Abdul Aziz did well to give an uncharacteristic press conference on our economic performance based on data from the Fourth Quarter of 2014. She said she was addressing "the misconceptions surrounding the impact of the fall in oil prices and the significance of the oil and gas industries to the Malaysian economy."

She agreed that we are adversely affected by the drop in oil prices, but said our economic growth could have been only within the 2%-3% range had we not diversified our economy. This raises the question of whether we have diversified enough and taken enough measures to face the challenges of these critical times.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala said much the same thing in an interview with The Economist. He said it was a "big misconception" that "Malaysia will suffer the brunt of the oil price slide because we are a major oil exporter." Malaysia, he stressed, is not a major oil exporter.

Actually, Malaysians generally refer to our oil and gas earnings together and recognise the major impact the industry has on our growth prospects. After all, as Idris has carefully pointed out, the "oil, gas and energy sector" constitutes 17% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is a large chunk of our economy. There will definitely be a major impact on our economy if oil and gas prices remain low and slide further. So we must appreciate the deep concern of Malaysians over the falls in oil and gas prices. We cannot afford to play down the problems or ignore concerns about our future.

When we hear talk of "diversifying our economy", we ask how successful economic diversification has been. The residual "Other Industries" constitute 30% of our GDP. Education and Health make up only 1% of the GDP. The rest of the sectors, like Tourism , Electronics, Agriculture and Financial Services, constitute only 5% to 7 % of the GDP each.

Couldn't we have done better after 58 years of Merdeka? Couldn't we have pursued wider diversification and gone into much greater value-added productivity?


We may not be in crisis now, but I dare say that we are facing critical times ahead. The major world economies are generally slowly recovering or are still struggling to recover. Malaysia has done better, with its 6% growth registered for last year. But how long can this high growth last in this sluggish world economy?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Langkawi fired up for Lima ‘15


LANGKAWI: Almost 95 per cent of the exhibition spaces for the 2015 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition (Lima '15) have been snapped with 38 days left prior to its kick-off on Mar 17.

Ministry of Defence (Mindef) secretary-general Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi said the ministry had received an overwhelming response for this year's exhibition with a total of 502 exhibitors from 36 countries already confirmed their participation.

Abdul Rahim, who is also Lima '15 chairman, said the number had exceeded the initial target of pulling 476 exhibitors from 36 countries.

"We are proud to announce that Lima '15 has attracted bigger number of participants as compared to 433 exhibitors from 31 countries recorded in the previous edition.

"Lima '15 has attracted 70 per cent of 25 world's biggest defence companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Safran which will be exhibiting their new and state-of-the-art technologies.

"For the first time, Japan has voiced its intention to take part in the exhibition which will also be the first exhibition in South East Asian region participated by the country since the leniency given to its defense products export policy.

"At the same time, there are also other positive development in this year's exhibition, for instance the People's Republic of China booked 219 metre square of the exhibition space compared to only 60 metre square in the previous exhibition," he said in a press conference after the fourth main committee's meeting and visit to the exhibition sites here yesterday.

Also present was Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin who is also the exhibition joint-chairman.

Abdul Rahim said Lima '15 exhibition would emphasise on the Association of South East Asian (Asean) elements in its programme, in line with the Malaysia's chairmanship of 2015 Asean.

He said the five-day exhibition would kick start with the Asean Defense Minister's meeting which would be held back to back on March 15 and 16 at Langkawi International Convention Centre.

Besides attractive programmes lined up during the event, including Air Chief Conference, Chief of Navy Round Table Talk, Maritime demonstration and tourism carnival, he said that there would be new programmes such as Multi-Nation Maritime Sea Exercise and Multi-Nation Counter Terrorism Exercise.

"We are expecting a significant hike of commercial and public visitors throughout the event where the first three days would only be opened to commercial visitors and invited guests.

"Air show will be carried out daily between 12.30pm and 2.30pm from March 17 until 19 and between 10am and 4.30pm on the following days," he said.

Backstreet’s back in Malaysia

By Dennis Chua

From left, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, and AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys pose for a portrait in promotion of their theatrical documentary "Show 'Em What You're Made Of" in Los Angeles. AP photo

KUALA LUMPUR: The world's best-selling boy band, the Backstreet Boys, will be heading to Malaysian shores as part of their "In A World Like This" tour on May 3.

Their showcase will be at Stadium Negara and is organised by The Livescape Group.

The one-night show is set to attract over 6,000 fans.

"We are thrilled to be working with Livenation to bring the Backstreet Boys back to Malaysia. As one of the world's largest and foremost boy bands, we are sure that their appearance in Kuala Lumpur will be highly anticipated", said The Livescape Group's director of live events Rahul Kukreja.

The five-member American pop vocal group was formed in 1993 and consists of AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell.

The band shot to fame with their self-titled debut album, Backstreet Boys in 1996.

Following the success of their first album, they released their second international album Backstreet's Back in 1997.

Singles from this album include "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", "As Long As You Love Me" and "All I Have To Give".

The single "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" and "All I Have To Give" peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number four and five respectively.

The then teenage heartthrobs not only won the hearts of many with the success of their first two albums but rose to greater heights and superstardom with their third album Millennium in 1999.

Singles from this album include "Larger Than Life" which peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 25, "I Want It That Way" which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top 40 Tracks and the UK Singles Chart, and "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely" which peaked at number six on the US Billboard Top 100.

The Backstreet Boys released a fourth album, Black And Blue in 2000 and the most popular single from this album was "Shape Of My Heart" which peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number nine.

They have sold over 130,000 million records worldwide.

The group took a two-year break before releasing a comeback album Never Gone in 2005.

After this, Richardson, left the group to pursue a solo career in singing, modelling and acting.

Nevertheless, the Backstreet Boys continued as a four-member group and released two albums, Unbreakable in 2007 and This Is Us in 2009.

In 2012, Richardson rejoined the Backstreet Boys and a year later, the band celebrated their 20th anniversary by releasing their first independent album, In A World Like This.

Tickets are priced between RM208 and RM688.

Backstreet Boys members Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell and Nick Carter attend the premiere of Gravitas Ventures' "Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of" in Hollywood, California. AFP

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

TransAsia’s safety record under scrutiny after latest crash

SINGAPORE: Taiwan regulators are likely to put more pressure on TransAsia Airways to review its maintenance and safety procedures after Wednesday's crash, its second fatal accident in seven months.

Industry data showed the crash of Flight GE235, in which at least 16 people were killed, was the fifth aircraft the airline has written off since 1995.

The death toll could still rise after the ATR 72-600, which had 58 passengers and crew on board, crashed into a river shortly after taking off from Taipei's Songshan airport.

This comes just seven months after a TransAsia ATR 72-500 crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.

There have been two other fatal accidents and another two major incidents in the airline's history, according to data from Flightglobal Ascend, an industry consultancy.

In December 2012, an ATR 72-200 freighter crashed en route to Macau from Taipei, killing both crew members. In 1995, an ATR 72-200 crashed into a hill near Songshan, killing all four crew.

In 2003, an Airbus A321 was written off after colliding with a vehicle that had strayed onto the runway while the plane was landing. A year later, an Airbus A320 was severely damaged when it over-ran the runway while landing at Songshan.

There were no fatalities in either of those incidents.

Investigators into the latest disaster are likely to focus on cockpit procedures and maintenance issues at the airline, said Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor at Flightglobal.

"Coming so soon after July's crash, the airline could come under intense scrutiny by regulators, not to mention the impact this will have on public perceptions of the carrier," he added.

Taiwan had a poor air safety record from the 1980s to the early 2000s due to several fatal crashes, mostly at flag carrier China Airlines.

Before last year's TransAsia incident, Taiwan's last fatal crash came in May 2002 when a China Airlines Boeing 747-200 broke up mid-air on the way to Hong Kong, killing all 225 people on board.

That prompted the Taiwan government, with help from agencies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), to revamp its regulatory agencies.

China Airlines also reviewed its procedures and passed IATA's International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in 2005, which meant that it met global safety standards.

The focus now is on TransAsia, which was listed on the Taiwan stock exchange in November 2011 and remains a much smaller player than China Airlines and EVA Air.

The airline, which also has Airbus A320s and A330s, mainly operates services from Taiwan to other Northeast Asian destinations in China and Japan. It also has services to South Korea, Macau, Thailand and Cambodia.

Its ambitious management has, in the past, expressed hopes of eventually becoming a larger carrier with services to Europe or the United States using aircraft such as the Airbus A380.


Sirul to fight extradition to Malaysia

QUEENSLAND: Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar who is wanted back in Malaysia to face the death sentence for the murder of Altantatuya Shaariibuu, has engaged Australian lawyers to fight any attempts at his extradition.

Confirming this to the Malaysian Insider, Sirul's lawyer, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin also said, "There will be some interesting developments but I can't reveal yet until we get things sorted out."

He also revealed that contrary to popular belief, Sirul was not being detained for violating Australian immigration laws but only detained because Interpol had issued a red alert out on him earlier.

He said his client would continue to be detained pending the Malaysian authorities next course of action.

"However, Sirul cannot be held indefinitely," Kamarul said, adding that Sirul had a valid visa when he was arrested at his family home but that it would most likely have expired by now.

"He has to apply for a protective visa to remain in Australia and fight any court battle there," Sirul's lawyer explained.

Sirul who fled the country before his conviction in the murder of the Mongolian in 2006, was a former police commando. His colleague Azilah Hadri was present during sentencing but Sirul, having already left the country for Australia, was not in court.

Last week, another one of his lawyers, Hasnal Rezua Merican, told a Malay daily that Malaysia was unlikely to be successful if it applied for Sirul's extradition because Australia has abolished the death penalty and would not send a criminal back to his country if the death penalty was carried out there.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Malaysian Malacca Bans Alcohol in Muslim Areas

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia's opposition Islamic party has supported the decision by Malaysia’s southern state of Malacca to ban alcohol sales in Muslim dominant areas, urging a similar ban on Muslim workers involved in alcohol industry as illegal in Islam.

“We congratulate the Malacca state government for enforcing the ban,” Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) central committee members Nasrudin Hasan, Datuk Khairuddin Aman Razali and Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said in a joint statement quoted by The Rakyat Post on Monday, February 2.

“This indirectly helps individuals involved to gain halal livelihoods. As a Muslim individual, the sale of alcohol is prohibited by law,” the PAS parliamentarians added.

Why Is Alcohol Forbidden?

Alcohol: Dangerous, But Why?

The new ban, approved by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, stipulates that store owners must immediately stop selling alcohol, deemed as haram, or prohibited in Islam.

The decision, applied in local communities in which Muslims make up more than 90 per cent of population, will result in banning from 7-11 stores from selling alcohol.

The PAS leaders have also welcomed Singapore’s move to introduce the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill and institute an island-wide ban on the public consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages from 10:30pm to 7am.

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“This clearly shows the impact of alcohol on society,” they added.

“Furthermore, alcohol in Malaysia, especially in urban areas, are easily available in convenience stores and no action can be taken.”

Islam takes an uncompromising stand in prohibiting intoxicants.

It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.

The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.

Welcoming Malacca’s decision, PAS parliamentarian called for applying a similar ban on alcohol sales nationwide.

“We urge for alcohol-related state government policies to be standardized nationwide,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement cited by the MalayMail Online.

“Furthermore, every effort to free Muslims from the alcohol industry must be supported.”

The ban will help “free” Muslims from being involved in work prohibited by their religion, they added.

Despite of PAS support, other parties like Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Gerakan have opposed it.

According to MCA, the new ban would result in ethnic segregation as well as blocking integration among the various ethnicities in the country.

Gerakan Youth reportedly said that the government’s new policy was akin to political interference in commerce, urging the state government to reconsider the ban.

Five years ago, Mosque officials in Selangor, like imams and muezzins, have been authorized to arrest Muslims drinking alcohol in public.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60%.

Monday, 2 February 2015

It’s all about the money

JANUARY 27 — On Sunday, January 25, 2015, residents living in Kampung Keramat demonstrated against the Datum Jelatek luxury condominiums.

"Fearing their Malay-majority city neighbourhood may soon be overrun by Chinese, a group of residents in Taman Keramat marched to the construction site of upscale condominium project Datum Jelatek here and violently tore down its cladding today."

Yesterday, PKNS was quoted in The Star that, "All 674 units of controversial Datum Jelatek condominiums have been registered to Bumiputra buyers, debunking allegations that the Malays could not afford to purchase the luxury units. Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) in a statement said that a total of 1,097 potential bumiputra buyers have shown their interest, exceeding their expectations on the project."

With the median salary in Malaysia at RM1,700, one would need to pay a monthly instalment of RM3,500 for a RM700,000 apartment.

Melayu sudah maju. Melayu sudah kaya.

Social media, of course, exploded with heckles — who's embarrassed now? The protesters now have egg literally on their faces. There would not be an invasion of Chinese moving to the mostly Malay enclave, but rich, moneyed, we-have-arrived Malays. Their very own brethren.

The lawyer cum columnist, Azhar Harun, wrote a public note on his Facebook, of his suspicions about the protest.

"I can't help but suspect that the said demonstration was orchestrated by certain parties who were out to tarnish the Selangor state government. Call it a hunch. Or intuition. Or reasonable deduction. Whatever. I don't have evidence. But that's how I feel. That was my first reaction. Which public rally or demonstration would make available free nasi lemak and drinks to the rally goers?"

He continued to say that Sunday's demonstration was a stark reminder that within our seemingly peaceful multi-racial society, "… there are sections that are parochial and exclusionary in nature. At a glance, such parochial, tribalistic and hence, exclusionary sub-society, is almost a trademark of our society so much so that it has been accepted by all and sundry. Or at the very least, accepted by acquiescence.

The damaged hoarding of the Datum Jelatek Project is seen following a demonstration by a group of residents in Taman Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, January 25, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaThe damaged hoarding of the Datum Jelatek Project is seen following a demonstration by a group of residents in Taman Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, January 25, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa"The failure of our affirmative actions and economic policies in establishing a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots only serve to create inter-class enmity and resentment."

I refer to Muhammed Abdul Khalid's book The Colour of Inequality and his paper on wealth distribution in Malaysia.  He shows that about 90 per cent of Bumiputera households have no savings, and about two-thirds have no financial assets.

In terms of wealth, about 72 per cent of Malaysians who are without wealth are Bumiputera, while 17 per cent are Chinese and 10.7 per cent are Indians. What is rather shocking is that an average Bumiputera has about less than one month of financial reserve to cover his monthly expenditure in case of loss of income or employment.

His study also finds that wealth distribution is extremely skewed, top 10 per cent of Malaysian households per capita control 40 per cent of the country's wealth, while the bottom 40 per cent own only 5 per cent.

More than 92 per cent of wealth comes from real estate, while financial assets contribute the rest.  The study also finds that ethnic disparity in wealth is much higher than the disparity in income.

The Chinese, on average, have the highest wealth which is 90 per cent higher than the Bumiputera and 50 per cent higher compared to the Indians. 

Improving socio economic status of Malaysians requires a consistent two-pronged approach, with a focus on both the bottom 40 per cent and on maintaining/increasing growth equality.

The weekend's demonstration is more than about politics, political intrigue and Azmin Ali. It is not about Malays versus Chinese and Indians. It is about the Haves and Have Nots among the Malays, and there may be hell to pay.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/dina-zaman/article/its-all-about-the-money#sthash.0x1MFVc9.dpuf

Boycott Chinese businesses to lower price of goods, minister tells Malays


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Malays consumers should boycott Chinese-owned businesses that have been raising their prices indiscriminately, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today, claiming it will help in lowering the price of goods in the country.

The agriculture and agro-based industries minister was quoted as saying in a Facebook posting that Malay consumers could assist the fight against profiteering by boycotting Chinese businesses.

He singled out the Old Town White Coffee franchise as an example, accusing it of being "anti-Islamic" and having links to DAP's Datuk Ngeh Khoo Ham.

"The majority of consumers are Malay, Chinese are a minority, if the Malays boycott their businesses, they will surely have no choice but to reduce their prices.
"As long as Malays don't change, the Chinese will take advantage to oppress the Malays," Ismail had said.

The post appears to have been removed from the minister's official Facebook page.

Ismail has however used his Twitter account and shared tweets of users praising him for urging a boycott on all Chinese businesses.

"I support @IsmailSabri60 to boycott old town white coffee with its questionable halal status and other business owners who refuse to lower down their prices," said Umno senator and supreme council member Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki on his Twitter account, with a link to the minister's official microblogging handle.

Another user, Rezal Rashid described Ismail's remarks as bold and timely, given the current economic situation.

Ismail has yet to respond to Malay Mail Online's attempts to contact him over the matter.

But news portal The Malaysian Insider quoted the federal minister as saying that his remarks were aimed at Chinese businesses who were "reluctant" to lower their prices.

"I am referring to Chinese traders who are reluctant to reduce the prices of goods even though the price of petrol has come down.

"What I want to emphasise is for people not to depend solely on the government to ensure the price of goods comes down because as consumers, they can use their power to pressure businesses," he was quoted as saying.

A year after ‘Onederful Malaysia’ video, Kok back with another

A screen capture of the latest satirical video by DAP’s Teresa Kok, titled ‘1 Goat Year 1 Great Family’.
A screen capture of the latest satirical video by DAP’s Teresa Kok,
titled ‘1 Goat Year 1 Great Family’.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — DAP’s Teresa Kok has published another satirical video parodying Malaysian events and leaders for Chinese New Year, even as she remains in the dock for sedition over last year’s controversial edition.

This year’s video is titled “1 Goat Year 1 Great Family”, continuing the apparent mockery of Putrajaya’s penchant for the number 1, and stars Kok, national laureate A. Samad Said, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Lembah Pantai lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, DAP’s Hew Kuan Yau, C4 founder Cynthia Gabriel and actress Lim Jing Miao.

Keeping the theme from last year’s video, Kok and company gather in what appears to be preparation for Chinese New Year and proceed to lampoon current and national affairs using double entendres, wordplay, graphics, costumes and innuendo.

Although they avoid directly mentioning any of the individuals and topics directly, those familiar with Malaysian politics and current affairs will be able to spot the references.

The 5-minute long video is largely in Mandarin although some parts are in English and Malay, while subtitles are available to help viewers along.

Kok was charged with sedition last year over her “Onederful Malaysia CNY 2014”, in which she is accused of mocking the country’s security forces by lampooning the Lahad Datu standoff with Suluk invaders.

The case is now pending before the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

The Seputeh MP denied that the video had mocked the armed forces or any other agencies or individuals, and said that it was merely satire.

Last year’s videos drew outrage, protests and police reports from supporters of the ruling Umno and this year’s edition is likely to do the same.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/a-year-after-onederful-malaysia-video-kok-back-with-another#sthash.LDrwB3jh.dpuf