Archive | January, 2007

Andrea De Cruz Ready To Jumpstart Career 5 Years After Liver Transplant

31 Jan

Five is a significant number for Andrea De Cruz. After all, it was about five years ago that the 32-year-old actress’ liver failed after she took the slimming pill Slim 10, and her then-fiance-now-husband Pierre Png donated part of his liver to her.

It was a gesture that touched many Singaporeans, even as her decision to file a suit against fellow MediaCorp actor Rayson Tan – who had sold her the pills – divided people.

Hitting the five-year mark is also significant for her, because it’s only after that length of time that she can get the all-clear from her doctors. And five years after the whole Slim 10 saga, she appears in her first MediaCorp TV Channel 8 drama, “My Dear Kins”, which stars Hong Huifang, Huang Yiliang and Joey Swee and debuts next Thursday.

In a candid interview, an affable Andrea, who showed no signs of being the difficult person that the media made her out to be previously, talked about new challenges and, shockingly enough, the time limit on her life.

Channel News Asia

Percayalah Sayang Bukti Vince 'Masih Bernafas'

30 Jan

GAYA Artis Baru Terbaik AIM 2005.

Peluang menemui Juara Akademi Fantasia 1 (AF1), Vincent Chong Yin Chern atau lebih dikenali sebagai Vince pada majlis sidang media Prelude Anugerah Industri Muzik 14 (AIM14) di ntv7 baru-baru ini, memberi kesempatan untuk bertanyakan khabar terbarunya.

Menurut Vince, dia akan muncul dengan album kompilasi yang memuatkan 16 buah lagu terbaik yang dipetik dari dua albumnya sebelum ini iaitu Vince (2004) dan Janji Vince (2005).

“Saya tidak menghilangkan diri mahupun merajuk. Saya masih aktif dalam dunia muzik,” jelas anak kacukan Cina-Inggeris ini memulakan bicaranya.

Katanya, album berjudul Percayalah Sayang itu akan memuatkan dua lagu baru iaitu Percayalah Sayang ciptaannya manakala lirik oleh M. Zulkifli.

“Lagu itu merupakan satu percubaan bagi saya kerana melodinya saya gabungkan muzik R&B dan rock.

“Sebuah lagi lagu terbaru adalah berjudul Tuhan Tolonglah yang dicipta oleh komposer terkenal Indonesia, Tito Sumarsono yang saya rakamkan di Jakarta, Indonesia awal tahun 2006,” kata Vince yang pernah memenangi Artis Baru Terbaik AIM 2005.

Antara lagu-lagu yang akan dimuatkan dalam album Percayalah Sayang adalah Mengapa Harus Cinta?, Janji Janji, Dugaan Cinta (duet bersama Nur Fatima), Dilema ’03 (duet bersama Nora) dan Keranamu Kekasih (lagu dari filem Puteri Gunung Ledang).

Dia yang bakal terlibat pada persembahan Prelude AIM 14, Februari nanti, turut menjelaskan sebuah projek khas bakal menyusul yang akan membawa namanya ke Taiwan dan China.

“Buat pertama kali, saya akan merakamkan album Mandarin dan kini saya sedang mengikuti kelas untuk memantapkan bahasa Mandarin saya. Mungkin saya akan buat single dahulu. Semuanya masih lagi dalam perancangan dan bila sampai masanya kelak, saya akan umumkan,” katanya yang turut ditemani kakak yang merangkap pengurusnya, Vanessa.

Keinginan untuk merakamkan album dalam bahasa Mandarin, kata Vince, adalah kerana didorong oleh para peminatnya dari kaum Cina.

Namun menurut Vince hatinya tidak akan tertutup untuk merakamkan album Melayunya yang ketiga meskipun album keduanya, Janji Vince tidak mendapat sambutan sehebat album pertamanya dahulu.

“Saya masih ada kontrak tiga tahun lagi bersama EMI dan kami masih dalam perbincangan untuk memilih konsep album ketiga,” ujarnya.

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Why Africa Now Relies On Arnold Schwarzenegger

29 Jan

Why Africa now relies on Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mary Riddell

Popcorn politics is doing more good for Africa than all the talk coming out of Davos.

I ONCE went for dinner at the British embassy in Khartoum. The walls were hung with oil paintings, the gin was iced, and the velvety interior suggested a Belgravia drawing room. Not far away, women held bone-thin babies who would die soon. Britain’s then ambassador to Sudan knew little of such scenes. He did not seem to get out much. No doubt communications have improved.

No one need to move far now to witness desolation. Hollywood loves Africa and almost every multiplex is showing one or more lament on civil war. Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland, the two latest examples, have gathered Oscar nominations and plaudits for their assault on Western consciences. Both also carry an unmeant subtext of exploitation.

Like The Constant Gardener, they depict an Africa whose job it is to kill, to suffer, and to supply a backdrop for a white man’s odyssey. The Last King, offers the tale of a Scottish doctor caught up with Idi Amin. Blood Diamond, set in Sierra Leone, is the vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio and enough military hardware to provoke envy in any ordnance-starved general in today’s Afghanistan.

Still, there is much to be said for the popcorn branch of foreign policy. Blood Diamond has sent a shiver through a gem industry that has offered Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Lopez $10,000 each for charity to flaunt sparkling rings and repel any public-relations disaster. Although Sierra Leone, like most exporters, has cleaned up its trade, conflict diamonds worth $23 million recently reached international markets from the Ivory Coast. Consumers will ask more questions and Global Witness, the charity that publicises the link between natural resources and war, is justly proud.

Tony Blair must have wished, as he spoke in Davos on Saturday, that he had a film star’s power. At the World Economic Forum, he reported progress since Gleneagles and placed the continent at the top of his agenda. On Darfur, there was no good news. It was, Mr. Blair said, “a scandal, not a problem.”

An estimated 400,000 have died there and thousands more face genocide. Aid agencies are on the brink of leaving after the murder and rape of staff by the government-backed janjaweed militia and rebel groups. Moves to get U.N. peacekeepers in to help the existing African Union contingent have been frustrated by President Bashir, who has reportedly bombed villages in the last few days. The response is international silence. No one is queuing to make a film about Darfur.

Sudan’s leader does not take kindly to scrutiny. Mr. Blair was uncertain, on the eve of his Davos speech, about how tough to sound. Is this the moment for the West to tell Mr. Bashir that he must make good his promises or face the consequences? Mr. Blair’s eventual call for better peacekeeping institutions will do little for those whose lives are measured in days or hours.

In September last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law forbidding the State’s investment, including its huge public pension funds, in firms dealing with Sudan.

Last week, German technologies group Siemens pulled out of Sudan, citing moral grounds. The British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee recently urged British businesses to do likewise and Sudan Divestment U.K. is targeting firms such as Rolls Royce. When I rang the company to ask if it was planning to withdraw, it emailed back to say that its exports were “fully consistent with the relevant export control regulations and help the development of Sudan, so that it has the ability to meet the economic and social needs of its population.” I took that as a “no.”

When Hollywood and industry have such sway, world leaders should cringe at their own lack of progress in Darfur. Despite U.S. and British oratory, and the advocacy of charities such as Oxfam, the blood still flows, the bombs still fall, and Europe looks the other way.

Europe must lead the way in demanding a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. Sanctions are vital to a political solution and getting more peacekeepers on the ground. But when politicians prevaricate, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has hit the ground dithering, there is also a case for pressuring big business.

A region is close to annihilation at the hands of violence and inertia, the twin agents of genocide. In Darfur, there may soon be no lucky people left. If nothing is done, then in 10 years’ time, a film crew might resurrect its ghost villages and deserted farms. And people of good conscience and short memory will buy their tickets and vow to change the world as they weep over what need not have been. —

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Hindu On Net

Singaporean Caught Trying To Smuggle Subutex Worth S$21,000

29 Jan

SINGAPORE: A 42-year-old Singaporean has been caught attempting to smuggle Subutex tablets worth over S$21,000 into Singapore last Friday.

More than 120 tablets of the controlled drug were found packed inside three condoms.

Two of the condoms were hidden in his anal cavity while another condom was hidden in his groin area.

Another two tablets were found in his socks.

An Immigration & Checkpoints Authority officer noticed the man acting suspiciously in the arrival hall of the Singapore Cruise Centre and conducted checks on him and his belongings.

The case was referred to the Central Narcotics Bureau and officers arrested a client of the alleged drug smuggler along Beach Road nearly six hours later.

The trafficker has been charged with importing a controlled drug.

If convicted, he faces at least five years in prison and five strokes of the cane.

His client, a 48-year-old Singaporean man, has been detained pending further investigation. – CNA/so

Channel News Asia

Norazela Rosli Sings On Her Own Terms

24 Jan

Although the new crop of Malay singers is obsessed with styling themselves after Siti Nurhaliza and other established songstresses, Norazela Rosli seems determined to chart her own path.

That would explain why it has taken three years since her stint on Suria’s singing competition Anugerah to come out with her debut album, “Di Sini Menanti” (“Right Here Waiting”).

Though she fielded offers both locally and regionally, she rejected them for wanting her to imitate the sounds and style of established Malaysian singer Waheeda.

“They wanted me to do more Middle Eastern-type songs, but I’d rather try all sorts of different styles, like ballads and rock songs,” she said.

“Di Sini Menanti” showcases that eclecticism, with tracks ranging from dance to jazz and even rap.

“I want the album to be a surprise to people and not something that everyone will expect,” she said.

“The important thing is that the songs are easy-listening. It’s an album you can just put on in your car and relax to while you drive.”

To achieve her sound, Norazela worked with producers and songwriters from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Singapore’s Jai wrote the title track, and Malaysia’s Azmeer, who has worked with the likes of Siti Nurhaliza, wrote the music for “Bisanya Amnesia” (“The Pain of Amnesia”).

“We heard a lot of tracks, but we were very specific about what we wanted. So, we worked only with the people we respected,” she said.

Also included in the album is a posthumous duet with the late actor Ishak Ahmat, “Nasib Pengembara” (“Fate of a Traveller”), from the 1970s Emilia Contessa film, “Akhir Sebuah Impian” (“The End of a Dream”).

Excited about pursuing singing as a full-time career, Norazela is wary of making any concrete plans, since the NIE student still has a three-year teaching bond to complete.

She added: “If you ask me to choose between singing and teaching, I won’t be able to. I love both!” – TODAY/so

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Azza Dah Tak Macam Tengkorak

21 Jan

SEMASA menghadiri majlis perkahwinan pelakon Linda Rafar dan Syed Aiman di Shah Alam, pada 2 Disember lalu, terjumpalah dengan Azza yang menjadi pengacara majlis itu. Niezam tengok Azza, kurus kering. Mukanya pula pucat lesi macam orang tak cukup makan.

Masa kami berbual, Azza ada bercerita mengenai masalah yang melanda dirinya selain kisah rumah tangganya dengan Mohd. Ehsan yang masih belum selesai.

Kata Azza dia tak nafikan dirinya sakit tapi Azza minta supaya penyakitnya itu tidak ditulis. Cuma katanya sejak kebelakangan ini dia penat bekerja mencari duit.

Minggu lepas pula Niezam terima SMS daripada Azza. Katanya dia sudah kembali sihat. Dia tak macam tengkorak lagi malah dah boleh menyanyi semula.

Sambil bergurau kata Azza, berat badannya pun dah bertambah daripada 43 kilogram kepada 47 kilogram.

‘‘Azza dah macam anak dara semula. Dulu kurus kering tapi sekarang ni dah okey. Masa Abang Niezam jumpa dulu, Azza macam tengkorak tapi sekarang penyakit Azza dah sembuh sikit,’’ katanya. Cuma kata Azza dia bersyukur selepas berubat, penyakit yang dialaminya semakin pulih.

Sekarang ni pun Azza tengah sibuk untuk menghasilkan album baru dan dia nak aktif menyanyi macam dia bersama kumpulan Elite dulu.

Berborak dengan Azza, katanya dia kecewa kerana tak habis-habis ada orang yang dengki dan cuba buat kacau terhadapnya. Biasalah Azza, apabila menjadi artis dan ada nama sikit, macam-macamlah tohmahan yang melanda. Apa yang perlu sekarang ni bersabar dan bertawakal kepada Allah sahaja.

NIEZAM: Siapa yang akan julang Juara Lagu malam ini? M.Nasir ataupun Adibah Noor?

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It Takes Two To Enthral

13 Jan

It takes two to enthral

What happens when two ustads meet? Their chemistry is magical, says CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

DELIGHTFUL DUO Zakir Hussain and Sultan Khan

What happens when a humble sultan of the sarangi and a flamboyant tabla wizard meet? There’s an air of anticipation as they move back and forth in time, melding the past with the present. There’s a burst of creative energy and expression. And there’s a good dose of masti too.

So it was this past weekendwhen Ustad Sultan Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain performed together in aid of Concern India Foundation. The veteran sarangiya though steeped in tradition is constantly engaged in reinventing himself in a liberalised world of music. And he has never felt better. The 60-plus ustad is next preparing to match strings with the legendary guitarist Carlos Santana. “These days I live life to the fullest and am more occupied than ever before. I enjoy the company of young people. I am a gregarious person,” he laughs.

Credited with bringing the sarangi to the fore as a solo instrument (along with his guru Pandit Ram Narayan), Sultan Khan has performed with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, George Harrison, Madonna and Duran Duran. And after Sanjay Leela Bhansali urged him to sing “Albela sanam aayo re” in “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,” followed by his super hit album “Piya Basanti” with playback singer Chitra, the veteran artiste’s throaty voice is quite sought after in Bollywood these days.

“At the fag end of my career a world of opportunities is knocking at my door. Anyway, I have no regrets and I’m enjoying every moment — . Imagine, the song I have sung for a forthcoming Hindi film “Big Boss” has been picturised on me?”

Though his latest album with Shreya Ghoshal has not met with the same response as “Piya Basanti,” Khan says more than sales figure, it’s the acceptance that matters to him. “The songs are on the lips of many youngsters, that’s enough,” quips the senior Khan.

He is hardly the kind to condemn all that is new and live in the past. “Befriend the young, understand and appreciate them both at home and work. Moving with the times does not mean foregoing values. .”

To prove his point, he adds, “There have been great tabla players before Zakir Hussain, including his legendary father Allah Rakha. But Zakir has succeeded in arousing the curiosity of the world about this humble instrument and making it an integral part of international bands. .”

Zakir speak

Making light of his achievement, Zakir says, “Luckily, when I entered the scene the walls had come down. So it was easy to make my presence felt globally. Every generation witnesses change. It depends how much it seeks from it. Tomorrow, someone else will step in to take forward the work done so far.”

The king of Indian percussion has collaborated with several Western maestros such as Mickey Hart and John McLaughin and today, the tabla is on a roll. “There’s fusion all around — in food, fashion, thinking, relationships and of course, music. So you see kurti on jeans, curry with pizza… it’s all about mix and match today,” he smiles.

Zakir has a way with rhythm and words too. The ustad has the audience eating out of his hands, whether it is with his uninhibited playing, uttering of the complex bols, interesting anecdotes, clear explanations or his sense of humour. Not often do you see a classical musician engaging in such a one-to-one with the audience.

Hindu On Net

9 Picked As NMPs; 2nd Term For NMPs Eunice Olsen, Dr Loo

12 Jan

SINGAPORE: A Special Committee has selected nine Singaporeans as Nominated Members of Parliament for the term of the current Parliament.

Among them, TV host and pianist Ms Eunice Olsen and businessman and medical practitioner Dr Loo Choon Yong will be serving their second term.

The seven new faces are:

1. Mr Gautam Banerjee, Executive Chairman of Pricewaterhouse Coopers

2. Ms Cham Hui Fong, Director (Industrial Relations), NTUC

3. Mr Edwin Khew Teck Fook, an engineer

4. Dr Kalyani K Mehta, a social worker and NUS Associate Professor

5. Mrs Jessie Phua, a businesswoman and President of the Singapore Bowling Federation

6. Mr Siew Kum Hong, a lawyer

7. Dr Thio Li-Ann, NUS Law Professor

Lawyer Siew Kum Hong says: “There are some areas that do interest me more than others that I feel very strongly about. And at the top of the list would be how better we can help the lower income, people who are less privileged and disadvantaged – basically anyone who is struggling in society, struggling to keep up with today’s economy.

“Another area that I would want to touch on is freedom of expression, freedom of speech in Singapore and the media in Singapore and how it’s regulated. I guess it’s because of my legal background and also because I write for the newspapers. These are issues that are important to me and I do think that we can go a bit further with how we regulate expression, and especially political expression in Singapore.”

Siew contributes articles to TODAY newspaper twice a month.

Jessie Phua, president of the Singapore Bowling Federation says: “I’m a firm believer in sports, not just in bowling. Being a mother of four, I firmly believe in the life skills that we can impart to our younger generation. Through sports, we definitely can bring up a generation of Singaporeans who are not only physically healthier but mentally stronger as well. We’re going to have a very much well-rounded generation in the years to come.

“For all of us who believe in sports, it’s important for us to step forward and do what we can. I hope that through Parliament, we can bring about some match-making where companies can adopt certain sports, and free up the limited funds we have to help other emerging and deserving sports.”

The Office of the Clerk of Parliament says a total of 48 nominations were received.

36 had come from the general public.

The successful nominees were selected by an eight-member special committee, chaired by Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi.

Their names have been submitted to the President for his approval. – CNA/ir/ls

Channel News Asia

Suara Penyair "Utusan Melayu – Lidah Orang Melayu"

11 Jan


RAIS Yatim mendeklamasi puisi Utusan Tinta pada majlis baca puisi Penulis dan Perjuangan di Rumah Pena, baru-baru ini.

Di bawah Utusan Melayu, tokoh-tokoh nasionalis bangsa telah memperjuangkan kemerdekaan menentang penjajahan Inggeris menggunakan ketajaman pena dan kepetahan kata untuk menyatukan segenap lapisan orang Melayu.

Majlis baca puisi Penulis dan Perjuangan yang berlangsung di Rumah Persatuan Penulis Nasional (Pena) baru-baru ini cuba mengimbas kembali bagaimana peranan akhbar berkenaan menjadi wadah terulung milik pejuang bangsa untuk memerdekakan negara ini.

Puisi-puisi yang dibaca antara lain mengangkat tema perjuangan Utusan Melayu dan cabaran-cabaran masa kini.

Tetamu kehormat pada majlis baca puisi berkenaan, Menteri Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan yang turut membaca sajak bertajuk Utusan Tinta, memperlihatkan perjuangan gigih bangsa Melayu melalui akhbar itu.

Isteri beliau, Datin Seri Masnah Rais dalam puisinya pula melihat kekuatan orang Melayu sejak era sebelum merdeka hingga ke hari ini banyak digerakkan oleh Utusan Melayu.

Pasangan pendeklamator terkenal, Leftenan Kolonel Radzi dan Asisten Supritendan Rosbaini dalam puisi mereka, Kahwin Campur Mas Kahwin 50 Bidalan mahukan semua pihak memberi peluang kepada Utusan Melayu untuk terus kekal sebagai lidah orang Melayu ketika negara sedang pesat membangun.

Penyair wanita terkenal tanah air, Zurinah Hassan dan anaknya, Raihani Mohd. Said pula menggabungkan puisi dan syair bertajuk Seorang Tua Bernama Bahasa yang melihat Utusan Melayu bukan hanya sebagai lidah perjuangan bangsa tetapi juga bahasa Melayu.

Dalam beberapa bait puisi tersebut, Zurinah dan Raihani menegaskan, ketika bahasa Melayu terumbang-ambing selepas kemerdekaan, Utusan Melayu muncul sebagai penyelamat dengan menggesa ia digunakan dalam semua kegiatan rasmi negara.

Sasterawan Negara, Datuk A. Samad Said pula membaca puisinya Sonata Wira Haloba yang menganggap kedudukan Utusan Melayu sebagai sebuah akhbar milik orang Melayu yang tidak boleh diganggu-gugat dengan apa cara sekali pun.

Pada majlis tersebut turut menyuarakan supaya Utusan Melayu perlu diperkasakan sebagai identiti orang Melayu ialah penyair Dr. Lim Swee Tin menerusi puisinya Sejenak di Almamater, manakala Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman pula mendeklamasi sajak Duri dan Api karya Sasterawan Negara Allahyarham Usman Awang.

Majlis tersebut turut menampilkan pembacaan lagu puisi dan deklamasi oleh beberapa penyair muda serta veteran tanah air. Antara lain Datuk Johan Jaaffar, Amirudin Ali, Ibrahim Ghaffar, Sutung Umar RS, Khalid Salleh, Rahimidin Zahari, Zainal Rashid Ahmad, Pyanhabib, Ahmad Syukri Abdullah dan Marsli NO.

Sementara itu, beberapa penyanyi terkenal tanah air iaitu Mawi, Khir Rahman dan Norman KRU turut menyampaikan lagu yang menyuarakan pentingnya Utusan Melayu dipertahankan sebagai hak orang Melayu.

Utusan Malaysia

NTU Student Stole MSN IDs, Chatted And Threatened Blackmail

9 Jan

He claimed he was a lonely person with few friends. So, the Nanyang Technological University student “stole” identities of MSN users, chatted with their friends online and even tried to blackmail one of them.

He superimposed the face of an 18-year-old girl on a naked woman’s body and threatened to distribute this edited picture online – unless she sent him pictures of her breasts.

Song Yick Biau pleaded guilty at the Subordinate Court on Monday and will find out on 15 January whether the offences could land him in jail.

His lawyer claimed in mitigation that the entire exercise had started as an “experiment” and went on to give Song “cheap thrills”.

In November 2005, he learnt of a programme that would give him access to another person’s computer – but only if the other person was gullible enough.

Song would chat with the other person and send them the program. If the other person clicked on it, a fake MSN login screen was created. Once the other person typed in his username and password, an error message would be displayed.

Song would offer to troubleshoot – and end up getting access to their identities. This simple ploy worked, and even Song himself was surprised.

“When he learnt of the programme … he felt no one would be gullible enough to click on an unknown programme and send the data back to him,” his mitigation plea stated.

Instead, someone actually did and Song stole the person’s identity, adopted his persona and changed the password so that the person could not access his own MSN account.

Using this ploy more than once, he started chatting with his victims’ friends – pretending to be the original user.

He gained access to the accounts of three young women, aged between 18 and 21.

He threatened to post edited “naked” pictures of one of them unless she sent him photos of her breasts.

She reported the matter to the police.

Song pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Computer Misuse Act – each of which carries a fine of up to $50,000 and jail terms not exceeding two to 10 years. He can also be jailed up to two years on a charge of criminal intimidation.

District Judge Liew Thiam Leng has reserved judgment until next Monday.

On Monday, the prosecution pressed for a deterrent sentence.

“We need to tell the general public that no one can do what the accused has done,” it argued.

But defence lawyer Mansur Husain said that Song had merely “misread the rules of the Internet”. He said the threat to publish nude pictures of the victim was merely a “joke”.

Things turned sour for the final-year accountancy undergraduate when a team of officers from the Technology Crime Investigation Branch raided Song’s flat on Jan 6 last year and arrested him. –

Channel News Asia