Fazley Yaakob and wife renew wedding vows

ACTOR, singer and celebrity chef Datuk Fazley Yaakob expressed relief after fulfilling his late father’s will for a second wedding ceremony to his wife of 13 years, Datin Azrene Soraya
Abdul Aziz.

According to Fazley, 40, the couple’s second nuptials were a request made by his late father Datuk Yaakob Mohammad who died in 2016.

“I’m so relieved to be able to complete my late father’s wishes who wanted his daughter-in-law to experience new happiness and memories.

“My father loved my wife a lot — he said Azrene deserved a new life and memory.

“This is what I can do to fulfil his wish,” said Fazley.

Sinar Harian spoke to Fazley on Tuesday night at the couple’s vow renewal ceremony that was held at Lanai Tamu, Neo Damansara that also doubled as their 13th wedding anniversary celebrations.

The couple wed in 2007, but the marriage was opposed by Azrene’s mother Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Azrene is Rosmah’s daughter from her previous marriage to Abdul Aziz
Nong Chik.

Although this wasn’t his first time on the bridal dais, he told the Malay-language publication that he was just as nervous.

“Honestly, my heart was pounding, just like the first time I went up on the wedding dais. Moreover, I can’t recall the memories from 13 years ago unless I see a picture.

“So today, I’m building a new memory even though the memories made 13 years ago was built with tears but I want to start
a new chapter.

“It’s even more special for me tonight to have my media friends as VIP guests and not forgetting the friends who have been with me for the last 13 years,” he said.

The Asmara Ini singer added that previously, the subject of their wedding was always full of tears but this time around, people can refresh the topic.

“This is a new memory for my wife and children and if the story of our wedding was a teary one, let’s now talk about this new chapter that’s full of joy — we’d like to move on,”
he said.

Fazley and Azrene have four children Ahmad Fariedz Shah, nine, Ahmad Fieradz Shah, eight, Ahmad Firudz Shah, six and seven-month-old Alayna Selma.


Puteri Balqis says she’s not gravely ill

CHILD actress Puteri Balqis Azizi has denied that she was gravely ill like how some people have reported in the social media.

Balqis, who was reported to be suffering from cancer, told Harian Metro at present she has been going for treatment once every two weeks.

“All this time, I have only been observing those who only care for themselves.

“When I was unwell, my mother has been taking care of me and she only trusts a few people to look after me,” she said.

The talented 11 year old said she was finally old enough to say what has been on her mind all this while.

“I wasn’t bed-ridden. I could walk but I get tired easily. Sometimes people would visit me after I had taken my medications which will make me fall asleep.

“I am not gravely ill. It’s better for me to say it now than having people believing others,” Balqis said.

Although she has been feeling better, Balqis admitted she would suffer from coughs occasionally.

“I would sometimes cough blood. So I need to undergo treatment once every two weeks and acupressure treatment once a month. My mother also takes me for traditional treatment.”

Recently, a video of a group of individuals representing a health product visited Balqis at her home.

The group, aiming to give Balqis some contributions, also showed the condition of the child lying helplessly in bed.

The last film she appeared in was Syafiq Yusof’s KL Special Force and Balqis said she would continue her acting career.


Redefining the movie-watching experience

MOVIE lovers of all ages traded their Sunday morning sleep-ins for gym clothes as they arrived at the gates of Central Park Bandar Utama last Sunday morning, to participate in the second GSC Popcorn Walk.

The family-oriented event offered participants the opportunity to sample various flavours of popcorn, take part in carnival activities, pose with cosplayers and enter in a lucky draw, before being taken to a screening of Ralph Breaks the Internet at GSC 1Utama.

GSC held its inaugural Popcorn Walk on December 3, 2017 to celebrate Golden Screen Cinema’s 30th anniversary. 600 people attended the walk, which was followed by a screening of Coco, and the event’s success has led to its being held again.

This year, the event was far bigger, with 1,000 participants.

The park was adorned with balloons and flags, and there was a “Wreck your Selfie” station to go with the Wreck it Ralph
movie franchise.

The smell of fresh popcorn mingling with the crisp, early morning air perfectly illustrates what GSC CEO, Koh Mei Lee said the cinema chain hoped to achieve by running the popcorn-themed festival.

“I think movies are very much a lifestyle, and we’re taking movies out of the cinema.

“We think we can enhance the experience by going beyond the cinema, so what we have here is the GSC Popcorn Walk,” she says.

Lee also stated that there were many important elements that made the Popcorn Walk a special experience.

“It’s very healthy because you’re going to do the walk, and it’s a lot of bonding with your friends and family.”

As each of the 1000 walkers registered, they were given a bright yellow GSC Popcorn Walk T-shirt, and before long, the park was filled with a sea of yellow.

The walk kicked off, and participants armed with the Popcorn Walk passport, took off around the park lake. To enter the lucky draw, participants had to complete five activity checkpoints around the park, which would be stamped off on
their passport.

Once the hour-long walk finished, and the lucky draw prizes had been called, the GSC Popcorn Walkers were guided to Golden Screen Cinemas in 1Utama Mall where they received goody-bags with Wreck it Ralph merchandise and some drinks for the movie, as well as their movie tickets.


Unesco adds reggae to

cultural heritage list

PORT LOUIS ( Mauritius) — Reggae music, whose calm, lilting grooves found international fame thanks to artists like Bob Marley, yesterday won a spot on the United Nations’ list of global cultural treasures. Unesco, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion. Reggae music’s “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual”, Unesco said. The musical style joined a list of cultural traditions that includes the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and Czech puppetry, and more than 300 other traditional practices that range from boat-building to pilgrimages and cooking. — AFP

Verdict looms for

‘Srebrenica’s defender’

SARAJEVO — Hailed by supporters as the heroic “defender of Srebrenica”, former Bosnian military commander Naser Oric will be handed a verdict in his war crimes case today, as a Sarajevo court stirs debate by putting a growing number of Bosnian Muslims on trial. Oric, 51, is celebrated by fellow Bosnian Muslims — also known as Bosniaks — for commanding the defence of Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in a 1995 massacre that was the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II. He is on trial in Sarajevo on charges he killed three Serb prisoners in the area at the start of the 1992-95 war, which pitted the country’s Serb, Muslim and Croat communities against each other. It is a closely-watched case in a region where few Bosnian Muslim commanders have been brought to justice for their role in the conflict. For years, perpetrators in the most serious cases were tried by the Hague-based UN tribunal set up after the 1990s conflicts in former Yugoslavia. — AFP

US life expectancy drops

again as overdoses climb

TAMPA — Life expectancy in the United States dropped yet again as drug overdose deaths continued to climb — taking more than 70,000 lives in 2017 — and suicides rose, a US government report said yesterday. The drug overdose rate rose 9.6 per cent compared to 2016, while suicides climbed 3.7 per cent, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. As a result, the average life span in America dropped to 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016, said the report.

The data comes as the United States grapples with a vast opioid epidemic.

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Go-Jek in S’pore to challenge Grab

SINGAPORE — Indonesia’s Go-Jek launched a trial version of its ride-hailing taxi app in Singapore yesterday, ahead of a full entry planned early next year as it aims to take on market leader Grab.

Go-Jek is in the middle of a US$500 million (RM2.09 billion) expansion plan beyond its Indonesian base with a focus on Southeast Asia, and has recently introduced services in Vietnam and Thailand.

It operates a fleet of motorcycle taxis, private cars and other services — from massage and house cleaning to grocery shopping and food delivery — available via smartphone, although the Singapore launch will only offer car taxis.

“Today marks the journey for us to be in Singapore so we are super excited, super humbled,” Go-Jek president Andre Soelistyo told reporters.

The Singapore market has been dominated by homegrown tech firm Grab since it bought US-based rival Uber’s ride hailing and food business in Southeast Asia earlier this year, ending a bruising competition.

In return Uber received a 27.5 per cent stake in Grab.

Singapore’s anti-monopoly watchdog fined both Grab and Uber for breaking competition rules during the merger.

Soelistyo said Go-Jek’s arrival would help to ensure “healthy competition”.

Go-Jek’s beta app was due to be available for download from yesterday to a limited number of customers, and will only cover a designated part of the city-state.

Beta versions are used to test and gain feedback from a restricted number of users before full service begins.

Go-Jek has partnered with Singapore’s biggest bank DBS, hoping to tap into the lender’s customer base to drive market share, and offering benefits to its customers in return.

Go-Jek has won financial backing from investors including Google, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market is expected to reach US$20 billion (RM84 billion) by 2025, according to research by Google and Temasek. — AFP

Putin defends seizure of Ukrainian ships

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has insisted that Russian forces were in the right to seize three Ukrainian ships last weekend, but President Donald Trump expressed “deep concern” at Moscow’s actions against a US ally.

In his first extensive remarks since the confrontation at sea on Sunday, Putin said it had been orchestrated by Kiev as a “provocation”.

He said the Ukrainian ships had entered Russian territorial waters and refused to respond to requests to stop from Russian patrol boats.

“What were they (Russian forces) supposed to do?” Putin said on Wednesday, when asked about the incident at an international investment forum in Moscow.

“They were fulfilling their military duty. They were fulfilling their lawful functions in protecting Russia’s borders. They would do the same in your country.”

Moscow and Kiev have traded angry accusations since Russian navy vessels fired on, boarded and captured the three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea.

After warning of the threat of “full-scale war”, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday signed an act imposing martial law for 30 days in regions bordering Russia, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

He also appealed to Nato members including Germany to send naval vessels to the region to back his country in the standoff.

“Germany is one of our closest allies, and we hope that states within Nato are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security,” he said in comments published yesterday by Germany’s Bild daily.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov, used by both countries, and of using force without justification.

Trump threatened on Tuesday to cancel planned talks with Putin at this week’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires over the incident.

The White House said on Wednesday Trump and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the incident by telephone and “the two leaders expressed deep concern about the incident in the Kerch Strait and the continued detainment of Ukraine’s vessels and crew members”.

Study points to Australia au pair exploitation

SYDNEY — The majority of au pairs working in Australia are being exploited, a wide-ranging study alleged yesterday, citing lack of government accountability in place to protect young visitors.

A country-wide survey of 1,500 au pairs — who traditionally perform light, part-time duties — found 60 per cent were working 36-hour weeks while being paid less than the national minimum wage.

The study was conducted by the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University.

Thousands of young overseas visitors work in Australia as au pairs, mostly young European women on working holiday visas.

Many work under informal arrangements, whereby a family offers board and a small amount of money in exchange for child minding and light housekeeping duties.

On average they were working just a few hours less than full time for A$17.10 (RM52.48) per hour, slightly lower than the national minimum wage, researchers said, although the figure included the value of the board and lodging provided.

Australia’s high cost of childcare is seen as the main driver of the trend.

“The demand for au pairing is often explained by Australian families’ need for affordable childcare,” the reports co-author Laurie Berg from UTS said.

“But the study indicates many families are taking advantage of the large supply of working holidaymakers to obtain cheap housekeeping services as well.”

The report found that young holidaymakers were left vulnerable by a lack of clear regulation and even “an agreed definition” of an au pair among
government agencies.

There is no specific visa, official programme or even any official guidelines for travellers or those who offer them work.

“Families need to understand that along with the convenience and affordability of in-home care come full responsibilities as employers,” Macquarie University sociology professor Gabrielle Meagher said.

Australia came under fire last year for its treatment of international students and backpackers.

There were more than 900,000 temporary migrants in the country in 2017, including foreign students.

A survey released last November of over 4,000 temporary migrants by University of Technology Sydney and the University of New South Wales found that about one-third were paid half the minimum wage. — AFP


NZ bans Huawei not because it’s Chinese

WELLINGTON — New Zealand denied yesterday that telecommunications giant Huawei was banned from a 5G network rollout because it is Chinese, saying the problem it faced was a technological one.

Wellington also dismissed suggestions its intelligence services came under pressure from allies in the “Five Eyes” spy network to bar Huawei amid fears about cybersecurity and its potential links to Beijing.

“It’s not about the country, it’s not even particularly about the company, it’s about the technology that is proposed,” Andrew Little, minister for the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) intelligence agency, said.

“I can say with considerable confidence that there’s been no representations made to the GCSB from Australia, from the United States, from anywhere, about how it should go about making its decision.”

New Zealand’s largest carrier Spark said on Wednesday the GCSB had rejected a plan to use Huawei technology in its next-generation 5G network, citing “significant national security risks”.

China — New Zealand’s largest trading partner in a relationship worth NZ$26 billion (RM74.89 billion) annually — expressed “deep concern” over the ban.

The two nations have a free-trade agreement and China’s foreign ministry said it hoped “New Zealand will offer a level playing field for Chinese enterprises operating in New Zealand”.

Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei is a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army and this has led to concerns of close links with the Chinese military and government, which Huawei has consistently denied.

Little refused to outline the security threat Spark’s plan posed, saying only that “there is a risk with the use of that technology”, but details were classified.

He said the GCSB considered a range of factors when making its decision.

“We know that telecommunications networks, like other infrastructure, are now points of vulnerability worldwide for incursion, cyber-attacks and what have you,” he said.

“So in this day and age, we’ve got to make sure everything is done to protect our country from those risks.”

Little insisted Huawei did not face an outright ban, saying Spark had the option of approaching the GCSB to see if there were ways to reduce the security risks.

5G or fifth-generation wireless communication offers super-fast connections that promise the ability to download a full-length feature film in less than a second.

It is seen as the key to delivering new technologies such as driverless cars and remote surgical procedures.

US lawmakers have expressed concerns about Huawei’s potential for espionage and The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Washington was urging its allies to exclude it from 5G rollouts.

Australia banned Huawei and another Chinese firm ZTE from participating in its 5G network in August. The other members of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group are Canada and the UK. — AFP


Moon’s approval

rating dips below 50pc

SEOUL — President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has dipped below 50 per cent for the first time, a poll showed yesterday. Moon’s popularity hovered near 80 per cent in May — an all-time high for any South Korean president at the end of their first year in office — in the wake of a landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But it tumbled to 48.8 per cent in a Realmeter survey of 1,508 people carried out this week. The sharp drop reflected public discontent over “economic struggles” amid stagnant growth, rising joblessness and persistent income gaps. The approval rating of Moon’s ruling Democratic Party also slipped for the ninth week to 37.6 per cent — the lowest in nearly two years — while support for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party rose to 26.2 per cent. — AFP

Japanese firm to pay

for wartime labour

SEOUL — South Korea’s top court yesterday ordered a Japanese heavy industries giant to pay compensation over forced wartime labour. Ties between the two countries have remained icy for years by bitter disputes over history and territory stemming from Japan’s brutal 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula, with forced labour and wartime sexual slavery key examples. Among those forced to work at the factories for Japanese firms, six survivors filed a lawsuit against The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2000 seeking compensation. Seoul’s Supreme Court yesterday upheld a lower court ruling that the firm should pay each of the plaintiffs unpaid wages or compensation worth about 80 million won (RM299,192). — AFP

Future uncertain for

Australia’s platypus

SYDNEY — Australia’s unique platypus population is shrinking under pressure from agriculture and pollution, putting the egg-laying mammals’ future in doubt, researchers said. A three-year survey of the duck-billed animal suggested its numbers had fallen by 30 per cent, to about 200,000, since Europeans settled the continent two centuries ago. “We have great concerns about the future survival of this unique species,” said Richard Kingsford, director of the University of New South Wales Centre for Ecosystem Science. Threats endangering the platypus in its eastern Australian habitats include increased land-clearing for agriculture, pollution, dam building and fishing nets, he said. Kingsford and his team called on authorities to elevate the protected status of the platypus from near-threatened to vulnerable. — AFP


Carmakers reaffirm commitment to alliance

PARIS — Automakers Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi reaffirmed their commitment to their alliance yesterday as their leaders held their first meeting since the shock arrest of boss Carlos Ghosn.

We remain fully committed to the alliance,” the three firms said in a joint statement as Ghosn, who helped make the group the world’s largest auto manufacturer, remains in custody in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct.

In Japan, frustrations over Ghosn’s management style have burst into the open within Nissan, with some staff also weary of playing second fiddle to Renault and its French-state backers.

Rumblings within Nissan have grown in intensity since the beginning of the year, analysts say, as the 64-year-old Brazil-born Frenchman appeared to be moving towards a complete merger with Renault that would be unpopular in the Japanese firm.

Renault is the dominant player in the alliance, owning 43 per cent of Nissan stock, but the Japanese firm now brings more turnover to the table — only intensifying a power-struggle between the firms.

One former staff member who worked for Nissan for 10 years said: “Internally, we felt the tensions, even if they didn’t appear on the outside.”

Some Nissan staff increasingly had the impression their hard-won profits were being used to prop up their French big brother.

For example, there was some resentment when the Nissan Micra was ordered to be built in a Renault factory just outside Paris or when the Nissan Rogue crossover destined for the US market was constructed by a South-Korean Renault subsidiary.

“Bringing services together is wonderful but in practice, it is not that easy. Renault and Nissan people started saying that the integration Ghosn was leading us towards will not work,” said the former employee.

Another staff member, speaking to public broadcaster NHK, was even more blunt.

“I don’t feel any merit to working with Renault. In my opinion, many Nissan employees feel they don’t want to work with Renault,” he said.

Ghosn also drew fire with some in Japan for what was perceived as a lavish lifestyle and brash management style — both of which run counter to Japanese corporate culture.

The staff member cited by NHK complained that Ghosn prohibited employees from receiving gifts or being wined and dined, and that the former chairman had ordered them to submit a written pledge to this effect.

Another former employee said Ghosn put “incredible” pressure on his staff.

“He humiliated people in public all the time with massive tellings-off in front of everyone. No one could say anything but resentment grew.”

Ghosn is under arrest on suspicion of understating his income by about US$44 million (RM184 million) over five years. He denies the allegations and has not been able to make any public defence as he languishes in a Tokyo detention centre.

In other development yesterday, a source close to the issue claimed Ghosn signed secret documents instructing aides to defer part of his salary without disclosing this to shareholders.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the misreporting started in the fiscal year 2009/2010 when a new law came into force requiring any company executives earning 100 million yen (RM3.7 million) or more to declare it. — AFP

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