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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Her husband dies and house is razed, all in one week


KOTA BARU: It is said that lightning does not strike at the same place twice but for  widow Rohani Che Ka, 43, the adage appears to be an exception.
Last week, the mother of three lost her husband when he slipped in the toilet and fell to his death at their rented house in Jalan Gajah Mati here.
About noon Thursday, fire destroyed the house which the family had been renting for six years.
Rohani said she was returning home from kindergarten with her three sons when she heard shouts of "fire, fire" from neighbours.
"I lost everything, including my children's Hari Raya clothes. I accept this as fate. I am grateful to God that my sons are safe," she told reporters here.
She said that last week, her taxi driver husband, Ramli Musa, died when he lost his balance and fell in the toilet of what was once their home.
Now, Rohani is in a dilemma.
She has to support her children, aged six, four and seven months, all by herself.
Her neighbour, Hoi Toi Loo, 56, also lost his home in the blaze.
Kota Baru Fire and Rescue Department senior officer Azman Yasok said 15 firemen in four engines brought the blaze under control within 30 minutes. - Bernama

Senior citizen killed in train collision


KANGAR: A trader, Yahya Kassim, 74, was killed when his car was hit by a goods train at KM134.25 of the Ngulang crossing, near here Wednesday.
The accident was reported to have occurred about 3.05pm when the senior citizen, who was driving from Mata Ayer to Ngulang, failed to stop at the railway crossing barrier and overshot onto the tracks.
According to the police, a goods train which was travelling from Butterworth to Padang Besar collided with the car.
The victim, from Ngulang, sustained severe head and body injuries, and his car was completely wrecked.
Yahya succumbed to his injuries and died about 5.30pm in the Intensive Care Unit of the Tuanku Fauziah Hospital.
The goods train was not damaged much and resumed its journey not long after the accident.
The case is being investigated under the Penal Code. - Bernama

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First batch of Malaysians evacuated from Syria back home


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SEPANG: The first batch of students from Syria arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 4:11pm Wednesday after the flight was delayed by an hour.
The seven students who arrived on the EK 346 Emirates flight were welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot Jaem.
The students were Abdul Halim Mohammad Ghazali, 21, Mohd Luqman Saidin, 23, Muhammad Afifuddin Md Tahir, 23, Muhammad Hasan Hilmi Hassan Shukri, 21, Muhammad Othman Zawawi, 23, Muhammad Rusydi Ilhami Ahmad Fahmi, 22, and Syed Abdul Rahman Syed Ramli, 24.
Riot said 101 more students were expected to arrive in three batches on Thursday.
The Government had decided to fly Malaysian students in Syria back home in view of the country's internal political crisis.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman had announced on Tuesday that the first chartered flight to carry the Malaysian evacuees would arrive at KL International Airport Tuesday while the second batch would arrive Wednesday.
Anifah said the Malaysian Embassy in Damascus was making all efforts to ensure the students were evacuated as quickly as possible.
He earlier announced that the Government would commence an evacuation exercise to bring Malaysians home immediately as a precautionary measure following the civil war in Syria.
The Government has also urged all Malaysians in Syria to leave the country immediately, while those planning to travel there were advised to postpone their plans.
It said all 138 Malaysians, comprising 128 students and 10 expatriates registered with the embassy, were safe and accounted for.
The Malaysian ambassador and four other embassy officials will also be temporarily withdrawn from Syria once the evacuation was completed. - theStarOnline

More grouses over rude Malaysians


PETALING JAYA: Double-parking and blocking other cars, jumping and hogging queues, vandalism, jay walking, driving slowly on the fast lane and spitting in public.
The list goes on as Netizens continue to air their grievances on social networks about the rude or inconsiderate behaviour of Malaysians.
Yesterday, a survey in The Star Online's Facebook page (www.facebook/thestaronline) showed that bad driving habits such as changing lanes without signalling, honking impatiently and tailgating were the pet peeves.
Also high on the list were selfish acts like ignoring signs against smoking, littering, snatching a parking bay while someone else is waiting for it, and not giving up seats for pregnant women and elderly people.
Recently, Reader's Digest ranked Kuala Lumpur almost at the bottom of a list of least courteous cities, placing it at 34th place out of 36 major cities in the world.
“I don't know about you, my fellow Malaysians, but I'm ashamed by the finding of Reader's Digest that Malaysians are rude,” @KingsleyLD posted on Twitter.
@oliviasy tweeted that even though she has encountered many rude Malaysians, she has also met a number of courteous ones.
“So there's hope,” she posted.
Facebook user Julian Kung commented that people who refuse to queue up, whether at a counter or in traffic, irritated him.
“Second worst thing is people winding down the window while driving and spitting, trying to achieve Olympic distance!” he wrote, adding to the list of over 50 comments on The Star Online's Facebook post yesterday calling for people to relate their experiences with rude Malaysians.
Another Facebook user Sena Ram said people who spit in public places or smoke around children annoy her.
“There are so many bad words (written or painted) on public properties,” she added.
Mickey Kok wrote that “decorated” public phone booths were an eyesore while Lucy Lau complained about people who eat “kuaci (sunflower seeds)” in public places and do not clean up the mess made by the shells.
Sheela Selvarasan said she hated it when people hold up the queue at a payment counter while they run off to look for a last-minute item that they want to add.
“In some sense, we can say most Malaysians are not civic-minded. I think we are all guilty of some of the things listed here,” she admitted. - theStarOnline

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brother-sister team escape Aurora shooting: ‘It’s hard to know that a 6-year-old passed away and I got out with nothing but a bruise’


Siblings Brandon and Taryn DiRito at Sunday's prayer vigil. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)

AURORA, Colo.—Brandon DiRito, 16, was having a great day. He played his last baseball game of the season with his teammates, went bowling with his big sister and friends, hung out with his girlfriend and then found out that he had scored tickets to the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," even though he and his friends had waited until Thursday afternoon to buy them for the showing later that night.
Brandon, his sister Taryn DiRito and his girlfriend, Samantha Ginsburg, were accompanied by three friends—Juliana Curtis, Jessica Almand and Cole Pentland; they picked the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora because of how cheap the tickets were (only $6.50). Brandon donned a T-shirt featuring the late actor Heath Ledger as the Joker, his face decorated with the scary painted-on smile he wears in the Batman movies.
When Brandon got to the theater, he saw that many people were far more dressed up than he was--in full Catwoman or Batman costumes. It was a rowdy crew, and people yelled and cheered as the trailers began to play, growing especially noisy for the Superman teaser. Juliana, 20, updated her Facebook status: "It's going to be a good night."
[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Colorado theater shooting]
The only thing threatening to mar the group's fun was that most of the seats were already taken when the six of them arrived, so they were stuck sitting in the bottom level, only eight rows away from the screen, forcing them into uncomfortable neck-craning positions. These bad seats may have ended up saving their lives.
By now, everyone is familiar with the horrifying events that unfolded next, but when it was happening to Taryn and Brandon, it seemed unreal and impossible. They are still struggling to come to terms with what occurred, and the fact that 12 people were killed and 58 others injured over the next few minutes.
A masked gunman wearing head-to-toe SWAT gear, a helmet and gas mask entered through the exit door on the right side of the screen while they were engrossed in the movie. Both Taryn and Brandon, who were sitting on the left side of the theater near the aisle, immediately noticed the exit door opening. Taryn remembers feeling "concerned," and then the gunman lobbed tear gas canisters over their heads and fired a shot into the air. Brandon grabbed his girlfriend's hand and ran out of the theater's left exit after the gunman had gotten off only two or three shots. The instinct to run was so powerful that Brandon never even ducked under his seat before fleeing. He remembers sprinting into the lobby and seeing the Snack Shack and surrounding area completely deserted. He turned around to see a horde of moviegoers running out behind him.
Meanwhile, Taryn and Juliana Curtis were hunched behind the seat backs, listening in fear to the screams of other people in the theater, while Cole pushed Jessica down, too. Their location saved them from the worst of the attack.
"We were lucky enough that he didn't shoot at the front of the theater. He kept shooting up ... he never shot down at us," Taryn said.
Brandon and Taryn DiRito, Juliana Curtis and Jessica Almand at Sunday's prayer vigil. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)When Taryn and her friends finally made a run for it, several minutes after her brother, Taryn was accidentally shoved up against the wall of the lobby by someone else who was fleeing. Taryn, 18, is only 4 foot 10 and 100 pounds. Juliana remembers seeing Taryn hitting the wall, an elbow flying into her face, and then the two were separated in the chaos.
They found each other again in the lobby, and then Taryn stopped abruptly as soon as they got out of the lobby's doors in front of the theater. "Where's my brother?" she asked in a panic. Brandon, who had made it to the parking lot with his girlfriend, was struck by the same thought as the initial terror subsided. He ran back to the theater's entrance, screaming Taryn's name. A few minutes later he spotted Juliana's bright yellow Batman shirt, and he and Taryn were reunited. Taryn was hyperventilating. They ran to Juliana's car and drove home almost in silence, all of them shaking in fear.
Both Brandon and Taryn talked to counselors the next day, and Taryn was prescribed some anxiety medicine to help her get through the next few days. But the memories from the night are hard to shake, even though both feel grateful they made it out alive.
"I saw people falling and I heard people screaming and I heard people running; people got out there and they were covered in blood," Taryn remembers. Brandon is haunted by an image he glimpsed right before he ran out the exit, of a woman lying face-down on the stairs of the upper level of the theater, legs pointing upwards.
"It's hard to know that a 6-year-old passed away and I got out with nothing but a bruise," Taryn said.
"I'm still feeling scared, like stuff that I see everywhere reminds me of his figure or the theater and like exit signs," Brandon said. He's also been disturbed by images of the suspected shooter, James Holmes, that constantly play on the TV news. "I saw his face and ... it just made me really mad that he was smiling," Brandon said.
At a packed prayer vigil for the victims of the attack on Sunday night, both Taryn and Brandon said they felt very supported by the community and were touched that people who didn't personally know the victims had shown up to pray for them. Brandon's girlfriend, Samantha, said she was grateful to Brandon for grabbing her hand and getting her out of the theater so quickly. "It was really amazing just to have someone to trust like that to get you out of that situation," she said.
Brandon, who is going to be a high school junior next year and eventually wants to be a pediatric nurse, said he's learned to cherish his friends and family. Taryn, who is attending Colby Community College in Kansas next year on a softball scholarship, is trying to focus on gratitude, while hoping to live her life as normally as possible.
"I honestly don't want to take anything for granted anymore," Taryn said. "I don't want to be sad about the little things like not having a car. It makes me realize how important things are and how great it is to be alive." - Yahoo News


Friday, July 13, 2012

Bieber and girlfriend Gomez slip quietly into KL


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KUALA LUMPUR: Teen pop superstar Justin Bieber slipped quietly into town Thursday night for the MTV World Stage Live In Malaysia 2012, to be held at the Surf Beach@Sunway Lagoon on Saturday.
Decked in designer street wear and all smiles, the Boyfriend hitmaker flew into town with his pop star girlfriend Selena Gomez a day ahead of schedule.
According to www.redcarpet.net.my, an entertainment and lifestyle portal operated by The Asian Broadcasting Network (ABN), the lovebirds flew first class from Seoul, alongside top Korean acts Jay Park and Kara, who are also scheduled to perform at the pop music extravaganza.
Bieber and Gomez were given a VVIP treatment at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel upon arrival at 10.30pm, which included being whisked away by big, burly bodyguards into a private lift at the basement carpark to dodge his lurking fans.
Two disappointed fans, Nurfatihah, 13 and Amira Ferina, 14, who camped at the Mandarin Oriental with their supportive parents, said they got wind of Bieber's arrival by following MTV Asia's official site religiously.
"But they flashed a decoy, saying Justin will be staying at the KL Hilton," said the upset sisters, who are from Petaling Jaya.
During his whirlwind trip to KL, Bieber and his lady love will be given a private tour around KLCC.
The 18-year-old singer will be the opening act at the MTV World Stage. - theStarOnline

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Congo warlord jailed for 14 years in landmark case


THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Delivering its first sentence, the International Criminal Court jailed Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for 14 years on Tuesday for recruiting child soldiers.
Lubanga was found guilty in March of abducting boys and girls under the age of 15 and forcing them to fight in a war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (2nd R), convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its first ever ruling, sits in the ICC courtroom in the Hague July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen/ANP/Pool

The sentencing was a landmark for the first permanent international criminal court, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Presiding judge Adrian Fulford said the time Lubanga had spent in the court's detention centre in The Hague would be taken into account, meaning his sentence has only eight more years to run.
Fulford criticised the ICC's founding prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, who recently completed his term of office, for his conduct of the case.
Lubanga's sentence was shortened because of his good behaviour in the face of the prosecutor's failure to disclose some evidence and giving misleading statements to the media, Fulford said.
Dressed in a grey suit, blue shirt and tie, Lubanga looked tense and wary at the start of the sentencing, slumping back in his chair. His apparent nervousness gave way to growing confidence when Fulford criticised Moreno Ocampo.
About 60,000 people were killed in the Ituri region of eastern DRC between 1999 and 2003 in an ethnic conflict that set Lubanga's Union of Congolese Patriots against militias from the Lendu ethnic group, including the Congolese Popular Army and the Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Sara Webb and Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Doctors and loved ones pay their last respects to Malaysia’s first silent mentors


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's first pair of donated cadavers were given a grand send off by their loved ones and the doctors who practised on them at the University Malaya Medical Centre.
Cancer patients Lim Kian, 67, and Low Siew Yeok, 47, had pledged their bodies to science in order to help doctors save other patients.
But more than just teaching surgical skills, “Silent Mentors” Lim and Low taught the doctors precious humanistic values.
The Silent Mentor programme, announced by Universiti Malaya in March this year, is based on the Taiwanese Tzu Chi University's programme with the same name where members of the public may pledge their bodies to be used for medical training and research after their death.
Cadavers are used for a three-day workshop, after which they will be cremated and the remains placed at a memorial hall.
End of the lesson: Doctors and family members saying farewell and thank you to Lim and Low at the University Malaya Medical Centre.
“Conducting surgery on someone you do not know is not the way for doctors to express their humanity,” said Prof Dr Chin Kin Fah, director of UMMC's Minimally Invasive Laparo-Endoscopic Surgery (MILES) training centre.
“The programme insists that students get to know their Silent Mentors inside out to cultivate a caring and loving attitude.
“At the end of the workshop, participants take part in a small ceremony to show their gratitude to their Silent Mentors for teaching them,” said Dr Chin, adding that the programme would not turn away any donor, including those with cancer and physical deformities.
The programme is a collaboration between UM, Tzu Chi University and funeral services provider Xiao En Group.
MILES manager Sia Thiam Eng said about 25 bodies had been pledged to the programme, while 160 others had expressed their wish to be part of it.
“This is the best platform for doctors to acquire surgical skills because the Silent Mentors are in better condition than other cadavers, which are usually unclaimed bodies. But the main aim is to teach participants medical humanistic values,” said Sia.
The duo who donated their bodies to science: Lim (left) and Low.
For Segamat native Lim's children, their father's decision to donate his body to the cause was his “greatest act of charity”.
“We are very proud of him,” said eldest son Tian Tsyh, 42, after the memorial service yesterday.
He said his father, who died on June 2 after battling rectal cancer for over a year, was actively involved in charity such as donating blood and volunteering at recycling campaigns.
“Although he was not highly educated, he became a teacher to doctors in the end,” added Lim's son-in-law Tan Ching San, 45.
Tan said he and Lim learned about the programme after watching a television documentary about it last year.
“He was taken in by the show and said he wanted to donate his body, but there was no such programme in Malaysia then,” said Tan.
After Lim was admitted to the hospital for the second time in February, Dr Chin approached the family to inform them of the option of donating Lim's body to science and Lim agreed.
“Dr Chin fully explained all the aspects of being a Silent Mentor and we agreed it was a good programme.
“He told us the body would be treated with the utmost care and funeral preparations would be taken care of,” Tan said.
UMMC and Xiao En Group also provide the Silent Mentors a special memorial site at the Nilai Memorial Park for their ashes to be interred. - theStarOnline

Mum helpless as two-year-old burns to death


JOHOR BARU: It was a nightmare for housewife Nor Nadia Abdul Samad who could only listen in horror as her two-year-old son called out to her before he was burnt to death in a fire at their home in Permas Jaya here.
The distraught 25-year-old mother was on the ground floor of her double-storey terrace house when she smelt something burning at about 9.15am yesterday.
“I had bathed my two elder children and was taking a shower when the smell hit me,” she said, adding that she came out of the bathroom to find the house enveloped in thick black smoke.
Nor Nadia then quickly ushered her two children (Mohd Amirul Hakim, six, and Nur Aisyah Nadirah, four) out of the house before attempting to save her youngest son Muhammad Aminuddin.
Nor Nadia being consoled by a relative outside her house after the charred remains of her son Muhammad Aminuddin (inset) was found.
“The smoke was so thick. I could hear Amin crying for me but I just could not breathe in the house.
“Moments later, the whole place was filled with flames and all I could do was cry and listen as my son screamed out for me,” she said, adding that she also called her neighbours and her father-in-law for help but none could save him.
A grief-stricken Nor Nadia said she didn't care about the house or any of her belongings but only wanted her son back.
Her husband Mohamed Nor Idris Ahmad, 29, said the family had just moved into the home on Tuesday.
Fiery end: Policemen and Fire and Rescue Department personnel investigating Nor Nadia’s home in Permas Jaya.
“We were hoping to start a new life here and this happens. I just do not know what to think right now,” he said as Fire and Rescue Department officials found the charred remains of his son after the fire was brought under control.
Johor Jaya Fire and Rescue Department operations head Mohamad Anuar said the house was already engulfed in flames when firemen arrived.
He said the cause of the fire was being investigated, adding that four houses were affected and two of them were totally razed. - theStarOnline

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A magical night in Putrajaya


PUTRAJAYA: For nine days, the beauty of Malaysia is paraded in a festival of blossoms and lights.
Embracing the concept of a garden city, Putrajaya takes on a cheerful facade that is not seen everyday at just any country's administrative capital.
One may even be forgiven to think that spring has arrived in tropical Malaysia.
Royal kick-off: Dr Ng and Tuanku Hajah Haminah lighting up the lamp during the launch of the Magic of the Night event.
For sitting on a specially set aside 15-acre site along the serene Putrajaya waterfront are flowers of various species, set in full bloom and thoughtfully laid out by landscape and garden specialists.
The Putrajaya Flower and Garden Festival (Floria Putrajaya 2012), now in its fifth installment, takes Malaysians and tourists up-close to some 400,000 tropical, sub-tropical and temperate flowers and plants.
Taking centrestage this year is the delicate but vibrant bunga kertas, otherwise known as the bougainvillea, which the festival organisers have hailed in its event theme as a species of “Enduring Beauty”.
Special memento: Dr Ng (right) presenting a painting to Muhyiddin during the Tourism Floral Parade 2012 Magic of the Night in Putrajaya. With them is Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit (second from left).
The flower, according to some, embodies the spirit of unity upheld in multicultural Malaysia.
“The bougainvillea is a rare find in cold countries and this floral fest is an exhibition that meets international standards.
“We would like tourists to come back to Malaysia repeatedly through new tourism products (such as this) and at the same time, to encourage Malaysians to develop a passion for gardening and to respond to the call for a greener and cleaner Malaysia,” Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said with a smile after taking a leisurely stroll among the flowers with her family here recently.
Indeed, such is the attraction of the flower, that government agencies, corporations, and floral associations made little hesitation in supporting the festival by organising some 100 bougainvillea cultivars at 80 garden designs here.
From China: The Suzhou float participating in the flotilla parade.
Some one million visitors are expected to throng not only the floral and garden festival but also the nine-day 1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade themed “Magic of the Night”, which was launched on June 30 by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah.
Other dignitaries who were spotted in the first few days of the floral parade included Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, international shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo and Datuk Ooi Chean See, the first woman conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Definitely, the floral parade has more to offer to its visitors.
By nightfall, visitors to the “Magic of the Night” event will be enchanted by a parade of decorated flotillas, which gracefully cruises along a 3km stretch of the Putrajaya waterfront.
And at the end of each night, a colourful burst of fireworks will dominate the skyline of Putrajaya, another highlight of the festival which is not to be missed.
The “Magic of the Night”, clearly manifests itself against the architectural beauty of the administrative capital.
Dr Ng herself has likened the sight to as if being in “a city of fairy lights”.
Colours of Malaysia: The Tourism Ministry’s float participating in the flotilla parade.
In case one has not already noticed, Putrajaya is home to many bridges and at Precinct Two where the Putrajaya waterfront is located, there lay the majestic and futuristic 240m Jambatan Seri Wawasan, which forms a scenic backdrop as the lights dance in the dark sky, leaving the beholders of the eyes both bedazzled and mesmerised.
The flotilla parade in itself is best appreciated in the stories the vessels tell through the cleverly designed motifs that each carries to showcase their state or country of origin.
Apart from one each from Suzhou (China) and Kenya, the other flotillas come from various states of Malaysia including Langkawi (Kedah), Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and, of course, the host city of Putrajaya.
Except for two others put up in the name of good sport by the Tourism Ministry and Tourism Malaysia, the rest of the flotillas participating in the 1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade 2012 will vie for various prizes, including the best decorated boat and the most popular boat.
Winners will be announced at the final leg of the flotilla parade on Sunday.
The “Magic of the Night” event started last Saturday and will continue until July 8. The flotillas will make an appearance from 8.30pm onwards.
The Floria Putrajaya is open to the public from 9am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday) and 9am to midnight (Friday to Sunday).
Admission is free.
> The “Magic of the Night” event is organised by the Tourism Ministry while the Floria Putrajaya 2012 is organised by the Putrajaya Corporation. - theStarOnline

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cop shot four times while arguing about Italy-Spain match


JOHOR BARU: A policeman is fighting for his life after being shot during a telecast of the Euro 2012 final at a pub in Nusa Bestari, near here.
The 24-year-old constable from Sarawak was rushed to the intensive care unit of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital after being hit by four bullets in his abdomen in the 4am incident yesterday.
He was said to be in a huff when Italy, the team he was cheering for, was losing the game against Spain.
An argument erupted between him and another football fan, who allegedly tried to stop the young policeman from drawing his pistol to settle the dispute.
In the struggle that ensued, the gun discharged a series of shots that hit the victim.
Shocked customers immediately alerted the police, who arrived minutes later and called paramedics to rush the victim to hospital.
“He is currently in a coma and is being treated at the ICU,” said Nusajaya OCPD Supt Noor Hashim Mohamed, adding that the case has been classified as attempted murder under Section 307 of the Penal Code.
Police have remanded a man, in his 20s, for questioning. - theStarOnline

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