K-pop star Rain to ring modest wedding bells

SEOUL: South Korean pop icon Rain announced his engagement to top actress Kim Tae-Hee in a handwritten letter to fans Tuesday – but said their wedding would be low-key given the country’s economic and political woes. “She has always been by my side through the hard times and the good times,” he said, referring to the actress two years his senior, who has a massive following in Asia. The celebrity couple first met while shooting a TV commercial in 2011 and began dating a year later. Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon, is one of the biggest names in the world of K-pop, which commands a huge following in South Korea, across much of Asia and beyond. The singer was confined to barracks for a week in January 2013 for sneaking out to meet Kim while performing his mandatory military service.

January 17, 2017 08:56 UTC

BAT agrees terms to buy Reynolds for US$49.4b - Business News

LONDON: British American Tobacco has agreed a $49.4 billion takeover of U.S. rival Reynolds American Inc, creating the world's biggest listed tobacco company after it nudged up an earlier offer by more than $2 billion.BAT, which already owned 42 percent of Reynolds, will pay $29.44 in cash and 0.5260 BAT shares for each Reynolds share, it said, a 26 percent premium over the price of the stock on Oct. 20, the day before its first offer was made public.The Camel and Newport cigarette maker rejected the approach a month later, according to sources, although the two sides remained in talks.The deal will mark the return of BAT to the lucrative and highly regulated U.S. market after a 12-year absence, making it the only tobacco giant with a leading presence in American and international markets.BAT Chief Executive Nicandro Durante said bringing the two companies together would drive "sustained profit growth and returns for shareholders". "It will create a stronger, global tobacco and NGP (next generation products) business with direct access for our products across the most attractive markets in the world," he said on Tuesday.

January 17, 2017 08:32 UTC

Van Gaal ends coaching career after family tragedy - Football

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Former Manchester United and Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has ended his coaching career following a family tragedy, Dutch media reported on Tuesday. "I could have gone there (China), but I'm still here," van Gaal told De Telegraaf. Asked if he did not have any remaining ambitions, van Gaal said: "No, actually not. Van Gaal said winning last year's FA Cup, against the backdrop of his impending dismissal, was the greatest achievement of his career. And then in those circumstances you have to try and stick to your vision and inspire the players of Manchester United."

January 17, 2017 08:27 UTC

A tale of two speeches as Davos week begins

DAVOS: The global elite begin a week of earnest debate and Alpine partying in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Tuesday, in a week bookended by two presidential speeches of historic import. One will be by Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. A World Economic Forum study said that within advanced economies, median per capita income fell on average 2.4 percent over the past five years, helping to explain why disaffection is so high across the West. British Prime Minister Theresa May will address the World Economic Forum on Thursday, two days after outlining her vision for Brexit in another keenly awaited speech. But the week’s most consequential speech will come in Washington as Davos winds down Friday.

January 17, 2017 08:15 UTC

Ipoh man lived in Singapore shopping mall for 4 years - Nation

SINGAPORE: A 35-year-old man has allegedly been living at Jurong Point shopping mall for nearly four years, using the water, electricity and Wi-Fi there. Chen, who is from Ipoh, Perak, has worked in Singapore for more than 10 years and currently earns more than $1,000 (RM3,139) a month. A spokesman for Jurong Point told The Straits Times it welcomed Chen as long as he did not pose a nuisance. "We're heartened that shoppers enjoy using this facility," she said, referring to the complimentary Wi-Fi the mall began offering in 2015. When asked why he rented a place even though he preferred staying at Jurong Point, he said that he needed a residential address for his employment pass.

January 17, 2017 08:02 UTC

Maybank's 35m shares crossed at RM281.7m, Felda behind sale - Business News

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 35 million shares of Malayan Banking Bhd was transacted in an off-market deal in late Tuesday afternoon. The shares were owned by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). Stock market data showed the shares were traded at RM8.05 each or RM281.75mil in several blocks. It was reported that Felda was seeking to sell about RM280mil worth of Maybank shares, paring down its stake in the nation’s biggest bank, weeks after the government agency said it would acquire a substantial stake in an Indonesian planter. According to The Wall Street Journal, quoting a term sheet, Felda is offering its Maybank shares at a price range of between RM8 and RM8.05 each.

January 17, 2017 07:52 UTC

Liverpool better equipped to fight for title - Mignolet - Football

(Reuters) - Liverpool are better equipped to challenge for the Premier League title this season because they do not rely solely on one player, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has said. "We were challenging for the title but it was a totally different game and a totally different 11 people. Then we were a bit reliant on the individual ability of Luis Suarez to make the difference and score goals," Mignolet told British media. It is always better to have a good unit than being reliant on one or two players." "The confidence (of a good result) brings good feeling, tells us that we have to keep working hard.

January 17, 2017 07:45 UTC

MRT free ride: Smooth sailing, except for commuters playing with emergency stop button, holding the door

SUNGAI BULOH: The one-month free ride for members of the public to experience the newly-launched Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Phase One, has gone on relatively smoothly, albeit some slight hiccups. MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) Line chief operating officer Muhammad Isom Azis said many commuters are still unaware of the rules and the consequences that comes along with it. “There were instances where the MRT service was halted halfway through its operation due to some teenagers playing with the emergency egress device (emergency stop button). “They should realise that such action can cause interruption to the MRT service, and some have even caused the MRT to stop halfway,” he said during the press-conference at the Sungai Buloh MRT station. The first phase involves 21km of elevated tracks between the Sungai Buloh and Semantan stations in Bukit Damansara.

January 17, 2017 07:40 UTC

Scholar says free-floating yuan is nothing to fear - Business News

SHANGHAI: China should overcome the "irrational fear" of allowing the yuan currency to float freely, an influential government researcher said on Tuesday, as markets seek clear policies in an increasingly complex financial environment.Yu Yongding, a scholar at the China Academy of Social Sciences and former central bank adviser, made the comments amid a growing debate among Chinese economists about whether the yuan should be allowed to trade more freely.With no clear direction from the central bank, traders have been closely scrutinising the comments of influential academics such as Yu for a sign of any future policy movements. "How the future exchange rate will go depends on central bank policy and I have no way of reading their minds, but I want to say that we should overcome the irrational fear of a free-floating yuan," Yu was quoted as saying by the official Shanghai Securities News.Yu's comments notwithstanding, traders said it was unlikely that Chinese authorities would loosen their grip on the exchange rate in the near future, noting that there was no clear consensus on what the equilibrium rate would be, for example.Yu told a forum on Monday that China has a huge trade surplus, US$3 trillion of foreign exchange reserves, the world's fastest economic growth, and a strong government. "(China) should be the country least afraid of a fluctuating exchange rate," he was quoted as saying.Yu has also advocated that China stop intervening in currency markets and instead preserve its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.He suggested the central bank set a "bottom line" of 25% for the yuan to depreciate.China's foreign exchange reserves fell to near six-year lows in December, but held just above the critical US$3 trillion level, as authorities stepped in to support the weakening yuan ahead of US President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.Though economists insist Beijing has been trying to prop up rather than weaken its currency, Trump has threatened to declare China to be a currency manipulator and slap punitive tariffs on Chinese goods.

January 17, 2017 07:11 UTC

Russia turns to Libya with show of support for eastern commander - World

Russian support could embolden Haftar in making a play for power in Tripoli, a move likely to fuel conflict and represent a major setback for genuine unity government in Libya. His tour of the Admiral Kuznetsov in the Mediterranean on Wednesday was Russia's most overt show of support to date. Haftar's advisers declined to comment on the aircraft carrier visit and what it might mean for relations with Russia. CONTRACTSRussia has outwardly backed U.N. mediation in Libya, and says it will abide by an arms embargo on the country. A parliament and government in eastern Libya that are allied to Haftar have no direct control over oil revenues.

January 17, 2017 07:11 UTC

Brexit worries push gold to highest in over 7 weeks - Business News

BENGALURU: Gold prices hit their highest in more than seven weeks on Tuesday, boosted by safe-haven buying ahead of a speech in which British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to discuss plans for a "hard Brexit".Spot gold had risen 0.8% to US$1,212.40 per ounce by 0605 GMT, its highest since Nov 23.US gold futures were up 1.3% at US$1,211.80 per ounce. "“Gold is going to do very well in the first half of the year due to Brexit concerns, Chinese currency pressure and uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump's policies," said Richard Xu, fund manager at China's biggest gold exchange-traded fund, HuaAn Gold. "“Stock valuations are pretty high and bonds are not going to perform much better than what they are doing now. There are very few alternatives for liquidity to go to and gold prices will find some support," Xu added.Britain will not seek a Brexit deal that leaves it "half in, half out" of the European Union, Prime Minister May will say on Tuesday, according to her office, in a speech setting out her 12 priorities for upcoming divorce talks with the bloc. "“We see that US$1,250 is not far away, but it is not going to rise above US$1,300 as monetary policies are not going to be accommodative for gold prices to appreciate in a much bigger way," said Xu of HuaAn Gold.Investor interest in gold was indicated as holdings of the largest physically-backed ETF, New York's SPDR Trust, on Friday rose for the first time since Nov 9, the day after Trump's election victory.Spot silver was up 1% at US$16.94 an ounce on Tuesday.Platinum climbed 0.8% to US$988.35, while palladium was firm at US$744.65.

January 17, 2017 06:52 UTC

Wan Junaidi: 'Kap chai' ban proposal must be backed by research - Nation

KUALA LUMPUR: The suggestion to ban “kap chai” motorcycles from entering the city centre in order to reduce carbon emissions needs to be backed by scientific research, said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. “The small ones don’t emit that much. Why are we stopping the small ones? We should be stopping the big ones,” he told reporters during a press conference in Menara Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi said most “kap chai” bikers were low-income earners and that a ban can only be looked at if there are convenient options for transport.

January 17, 2017 06:26 UTC

Malaysia's EPF to allocate US$11 bil more to Islamic fund in 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 17): Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will allocate a further 50 billion ringgit (US$11.20 billion) to its Islamic fund in 2018, potentially boosting the domestic Islamic finance market. The additional injection was more than the 20 to 30 billion ringgit the fund had estimated it would allocate for 2018. Of the initial 100 billion ringgit allocated, a total of 59.03 billion ringgit have been taken up, the pension fund said in a statement on Tuesday. Chief executive officer Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said the fund had anticipated that at least half of the initial 100 billion ringgit fund to be taken up. "For (the 2018 shariah fund), we have allocated 50 billion ringgit as further injection," Ridzuan said in the statement.

January 17, 2017 06:11 UTC

EAIC: Use polygraph test in agencies that handle security, govt secrets

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal to gauge the integrity of civil servants, particularly those attached to enforcement agencies, through polygraph tests, has won the approval of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam yesterday said the test, if implemented, should focus on agencies that deal with security. He said the test would be useful in screening personnel for critical posts and those who handled sensitive matters. He said besides polygraph tests, authorities could also use psychometric tests and the “mentor-mentee” approach to ensure that integrity issues were addressed. We will see if it is compatible with us because we currently already have integrity tests, especially for our recruits.”He said the police had integrity tests to ensure members of the force were not inclined towards corruption.

January 17, 2017 06:08 UTC

Trump team defends health pick Tom Price over ethics charge - World

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's transition team defended his nominee for health and human services (HHS) secretary, Tom Price, from charges that he bought shares in a company days before introducing legislation that would have benefited the firm. A Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Wednesday for Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia who, if confirmed, would be a lead agent in carrying out Trump's plans to overhaul President Barack Obama's signature health care law. The Trump transition team said late on Monday that the stock purchase was directed not by Price but by a broker and that Price himself did not become aware of the stock buy until well after the legislation was introduced. "Any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false," said transition spokesman Phil Blando. "The President-elect claims he wants to drain the swamp, but Congressman Price has spent his career filling it up," Schumer said in a statement.

January 17, 2017 06:02 UTC

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