Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiest places for spiritual experiences

Holiest places for spiritual experiences

Travel guide Lonely Planet has come up with a list of the holiest places in the world where the faithful believe the handiwork of the divine is evident.

Holiest places for spiritual experiences

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - It is often said that God works in mysterious ways, and travel guide Lonely Planet has come up with a list of the holiest places in the world where the faithful believe the handiwork of the divine is evident.

This list is from Lonely Planet's "1000 Ultimate Experiences" guide and is not endorsed by Reuters.


The Yoruba supreme god Oludumare sent his son Oduduwa down a gold chain to the site of present-day Ife, with some sand, a cockerel to scratch a hole and a palm nut to plant in it, creating the world and 16 Yoruba clans. Ife today is a large university town with some superb cast-bronze heads and the energy you'd expect from the universe's first city.


For the ancient Israelites, the world began from the Ark of the Covenant, resting in the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple, sited on the Foundation Stone - the foundation of the world. This place is revered by Muslims as the spot from which Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. It's now housed within the 7th-century Dome of the Rock, whose golden cupola dazzles visitors across Jerusalem.

Rain clouds are seen over the Dome of the Rock, on the compound
known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as Temple Mount,
in Jerusalem's Old City.


The faithful believe the temple witnessed the creation of the universe. Purportedly constructed by the Hindu moon god, Somraj, then rebuilt numerous times by luminaries including Krishna himself, the current edifice isn't quite what you'd expect from a temple that's supposedly older than time itself.


There are ample reasons to feel awed by Africa's second-highest mountain. Its loftiest peak, 5,199m Batian, is a daunting challenge even for experienced technical climbers, while those who top the 'trekkers' summit', Point Lenana (4,985m), contend with breathlessness, a pounding head and subzero chills. Then there's the fact that you're trespassing on the home of a supreme deity. Kenya's most populous tribe, the Kikuyu, believe Ngai resides atop the mountain, whose English moniker derives from Kere Nyaga (Mountain of Brightness).

An aerial view of Mount Kenya.


Mighty Kailash is four-times sacred. For Buddhists it's the home of vengeful Demchok; it's where the founder of Jainism attained nirvana; it's the seat of all power for the pre-Buddhist faith; and for Hindus it's the home of Shiva, the destroyer. The 'navel of the world', Kailash is also known as Mt Meru, legendary abode of gods and birthplace of four holy rivers. Devotees of all four faiths make the circular pilgrimage around this isolated, hulking peak in order to gain good fortune and religious merit.


The mount is where God is believed to have revealed to Moses the Ten Commandments. Still standing is St Catherine's Monastery, built in the 6th century at the location of the burning bush that gave Moses his orders. Bedouin guides on site help visitors to explore the region and get an insight into local traditions.

St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai stands surrounded by the
steep cliffs under the blazing desert sun in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.


From the body of the creator of the universe, Pan Gu, were formed five sacred Taoist mountains, the most holy of which is Tai Shan, in Shandong province. A climb up the 1,545m peak passes temples, tea houses, rivers, ancient inscriptions and ethereal mountain views.

A cable car descends from cloud-covered Tai Shan overlooking Taian
in Shandong province, eastern China.


Machu Picchu might be magical, but if you want to see where the seeds of the mighty Inca empire were reputedly sown, take a boat from the small town of Copacabana to the 'Island of the Sun', floating in azure Lake Titicaca. At the northern end of the island, in the Chincana site, sits the sacred rock from which the bearded god Viracocha drew Manco Capac and his sister Mama Ocllo, the founders of the Inca dynasty. Hike around the island to take in Inca ruins and watch the sun set over the picture-perfect lake.

Indigenous Bolivians of the Aymara culture hold their hands up to
receive the first rays of the sun as they celebrate the Southern
Hemisphere's winter solstice on the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun)
in Lake Titicaca.


Murder, infidelity, incest, doublecrossing: the tales of the Greek gods read like a particularly lurid soap opera. Their home, Mt Olympus, is a suitably dramatic backdrop. It's a two-day ascent to reach the immortals' vertiginous lair, 2917m Mytikas peak, through verdant forests and past striking views. Though the climb doesn't require superhuman powers, before attempting it, it might not hurt to visit the site of ancient Dion, where Alexander the Great made sacrifices.

A priestess dances as she participates in a rare ceremony honoring Zeus,
the king of the ancient Greek gods, along with hundreds of worshippers
of the 12 Ancient Greek Gods of mount Olympus at the Temple of
Olympian Zeus in central Athens.


Native Americans believe the Great Chief Above created the world, all the animals and humans, for whom he left an instruction manual: a series of red ochre pictographs depicting hunting and other activities. Though some are now underwater and many have been defaced, a few can still be seen on rocks at the northern end of Lake Chelan in Washington state.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are You Getting Scammed by Facebook Games?

Friday, Nov. 06, 2009

Are You Getting Scammed by Facebook Games?

Facebook games — Mafia Wars, FarmVille, Restaurant City — have become surprisingly effective at diverting time wasters among the social-networking crowd. More than 63 million people alone play FarmVille. But now accusations have surfaced that the games can lead some more gullible players, including children, into Internet scams, especially if they have a cell phone.

Here's how it works. You join FarmVille, a game on Facebook in which you can create a virtual farm by growing crops and livestock and tilling the earth. Through your toil, you earn virtual money, but to farm more efficiently or quickly, you can also invest real cash (through PayPal or a credit card) to buy virtual goods, such as seed or a tractor. Should you not have any real cash to spare on things that after all do not actually exist, you can instead accept an offer from one of the advertisers on the game site and get virtual cash in return. (See the top 10 Internet blunders.)

These offers, generally known in the business as lead-gen (lead generators), will give you some seed/tractor money in return for signing up for, say, a subscription to Netflix or a credit card. But less scrupulous advertisers lure players in with an offer to take a bogus survey or IQ test. Once it's completed they require a cell-phone number to send you the results. When you enter your cell number and create a password, you have unwittingly subscribed to a service you never wanted but will be billed for. If you're a kid, the mysterious charge then appears on the phone bill of the parents, who often find that phone companies will not cancel services from a third-party provider — even if the parent cannot find out who that provider is. (See five Facebook no-nos for divorcing couples.)

Will O'Brien, general manager of social and casual games at TrialPay, a company that matches advertisers with potential online clients, told the San Francisco Chronicle that offers to swap personal information for virtual cash are designed to reach the young because they're less likely to have a credit card. But they often have cell phones, usually on their parents' plans. Indeed, while Facebook rules state that users must be at least 13, FarmVille seems to be aimed at a youthful crowd, at least by its marketing pitch: "Howdy Ya'll! Come on down to the Farm today and play with your friends ..."

The issue came to a head on Nov. 1 when the blogger Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch confronted some of the advertising providers at a virtual goods summit with accusations of scammy behavior. He blogged about it and also managed to find a former social-networking ad executive who admitted that the industry knew that not all the ads were on the up-and-up.

Mark Pincus of Zynga, the largest and most profitable of the social-networking game companies, (it created FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Cafe World) was quick to respond. "I agree with [Arrington] and others that some of these offers misrepresent and hurt our industry," he wrote on his blog. "We have worked hard to remove bad offers ... Nevertheless we need to be more aggressive and have revised our service-level agreements." He also took down all offers that involve sending a mobile-phone number. Offerpal, the biggest provider of offer advertising, also apparently responded quickly, replacing CEO Anu Shukla, shortly after a video of her confrontation with Arrington surfaced. Other game developers said the accusations amount to nothing more than the rants of an attention-hungry blogger. (Read what happens to your Facebook profile after you die.)

According to the Better Business Bureau of Greater San Francisco, 222 complaints have been lodged against Zynga in the last 12 months. But most of these have not been about advertising scams, and Zynga has raised its BBB rating to a B+ from an F. Offerpal has a B rating. Industry figures suggest that roughly 90% of social-networking game players neither spend any real money nor click on any ads. And Facebook and MySpace say they monitor all applications closely and have suspended companies that violate its advertising protocols. In the last several days, both companies have revised their guidelines to be more stringent. (See the 10 worst video game movies.)

But clearly there's reason for caution. Other Internet entrepreneurs have piped up about the issue. James Hong, who co-founded, said that even back in 2005 he'd stopped taking the kind of offers that ask for cell-phone numbers or a subscription. "The offers that monetize the best are the ones that scam/trick users," he wrote on his blog. "Sure we had [legitimate] Netflix ads show up ... but I'm pretty sure most of the money ended up getting our users hooked into auto-recurring SMS subscriptions for horoscopes and stuff."

All in all, might be just as well to earn virtual cash the old-fashioned way: by playing for it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bilingual policy was most difficult: MM

Bilingual policy was most difficult: MM
Fri, Nov 06, 2009
The Straits Times

By Jeremy Au Yong

INTELLIGENCE does not necessarily translate into a flair for languages.

That was the lesson Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said he learnt in implementing the bilingual policy in schools.

'Initially, I believed that intelligence was equated to language ability. Later, I found that they are two different attributes - IQ and a facility for languages. My daughter, a neurologist, confirmed this,' he said in an interview carried in Petir, the People's Action Party magazine.

Asked to pick policies he would have implemented differently, he cited the teaching of bilingualism, especially in English and Mandarin, as the most difficult policy.

'I did not know how difficult it was for a child from an English-speaking home to learn Mandarin,' he said.

'If you are speaking English at home and you are taught Mandarin in Primary 1 by Chinese teachers who teach Mandarin as it was taught in the former Chinese schools, by the direct method, using only Mandarin, you will soon lose interest because you do not understand what the teacher is saying.

'You spend time on extra tuition, and still make little progress. Many were turned off Mandarin for life.'

In the end, the Government recognised that students with the same ability in other subjects may not be able to cope being in the same second language class. It took 30 years for the issue to be resolved.

'Eventually, we settled the problem in 2004 by teaching the mother tongue in the module system. Had we done this earlier, we would have had less wastage of students' time and effort, and less heartache for parents,' he said candidly.

While acknowledging the initial approach to the policy was unsatisfactory, he pointed to other policies that were spot on.

Asked about factors which had an impact on the PAP's success, he pointed to winning people's trust, and foresight: 'One attribute with the most lasting impact has been our approach of tackling problems early.'

He cited the Area Licensing Scheme as an example. The 1975 scheme was the precursor to the Electronic Road Pricing scheme and charged motorists for driving into parts of the Central Business District.

'The Area Licensing System, we implemented before cars became so numerous that it became politically difficult. Many big cities in the West are trapped and cannot do this,' Mr Lee said.

Petir also carried comments from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in its latest issue. Released yesterday, the edition also marks the PAP's 50 years in power.

PM Lee took the opportunity to look ahead and reflect on the future for the PAP and Singapore.

The party must aim to be fresh and relevant, and its policies, organisation and activities must constantly evolve to keep up with the times.

He said: 'The PAP carries a special responsibility for Singapore. The party needs to be there on issues which matter to Singaporeans - bread-and-butter issues like jobs, education, health care and housing, as well as softer issues such as the environment, the arts and rejuvenating our city.'

SM Goh commented on the policy he was most proud of, and his biggest worry for Singapore.

The policy he singled out was Edusave, which was introduced in 1993 to pay for enrichment programmes for students.

'My own experience prompted me to introduce the scheme. I was helped by a government bursary in secondary school and university. Without the financial assistance, I might not have been able to complete university,' he disclosed.

His biggest worry? The declining birthrate. The shortfall could be made up with new immigrants, he acknowledged, but it could affect Singapore's make-up too.

'Yes, we can top up the population with new immigrants. We can be a cosmopolitan country. It sounds good, but it is not the same as having a Singapore populated mainly by the Singapore 'tribe'.

'It has taken 50 years for this tribe to evolve. With new immigrants, the texture of Singapore will be radically altered. There will be more tribes. It will take time, perhaps more than one generation, for them to integrate.'

Changing times

'Singapore politics will change, but not because I leave politics. It will happen because of significant changes in Singapore's economic and social conditions.

'I cannot say what these changes will be with a change in generations. For certain, many new discoveries and inventions will make communication, transportation and travel faster and cheaper. The result is closer economic integration.

'As the most open and connected city in the world, the impact of this on Singapore will be considerable.

'The PAP will have to change, to adjust and adapt its political, economic and social policies to achieve the 'Singapore Dream' for this more affluent generation.'

- Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, when asked how Singapore will change when he leaves politics

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Kama Sutra of nonsense

Bookshelf: The Kama Sutra of nonsense

(Review of
The Kama Sutra of Business: management principles from Indian classics, by Nury Vittachi)

Date: 01-Apr-07 by Michael Backman, World Business' contributing editor (Asia)

The US is the richest, most powerful economy the world has ever seen: GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis is $41,800.
Compare this with chronically corrupt, underperforming India with a per capita income of just $3,800. Only now is India enjoying five
minutes of economic sunshine and then only in a few sectors. So from which economy would you seek business inspiration? Hong
Kong-based writer Nury Vittachi attempts to steer us to India in this book.

Business as a discipline has no great heroes from antiquity and no great epics. So that it might seem to have deep foundations like
other disciplines, old texts that have nothing to do with business are mined and twisted to fit contemporary issues. Vittachi is the latest
foot soldier in this questionable enterprise. So we find that "the world's first management guru was a sage who used his techniques to
build an empire bigger than Western Europe". And a 16th century prince, defeated in battle, who carries off the palace treasure takes
with him "what any modern executive would count as a decent-sized parachute". Vittachi carries on like this for more than 200 pages,
desperate to find some business wisdom where clearly there is none.

Early on he fashions himself as a 'tour guide' and laboriously recounts stories about warrior princes and deer in the forest from texts
such as Arthashastra, Bhagavad-Gita and the Kama Sutra. And when there are no texts, he refashions legends, embellishes them with
detail he can't possibly know and then uses that detail to deliver trite truisms dressed up as business wisdom.

"Plan for the future, but live for the day" and "Balance is everything" is the sort of thing to expect. Some of this is worse than vacuous;
it's plain wrong. "The only way to achieve a complex victory on multiple fronts is to focus purely on the present step at the present
time; for life is no more or less than a series of nows." So don't waste your time in planning.

Vittachi is a good writer in a technical sense - he uses clear prose and short sentences, allowing the reader to glide effortlessly. But
that's part of the problem: it means that the utter banality of his endeavours is laid out for all to see. And he is not just a tour guide.
"Today, we act as if human beings live on individual islands. But in the past, they knew the truth. Humans constantly interacted with
each other." Is he writing about business management or is he planning to start a cult? This thesis is undermined by his retelling of
tales of murder, war and family infighting. Two pages later and he's at it again. "Discipline is a bad word today," he asserts. Is it? Says

Elsewhere he is dogmatic and presumptuous: "For 99% of commercial organisations, the road to riches is to build a slightly better
mousetrap," he writes, before advising us not to be fooled by marketing that tells us that a car is not a car but an invention. "This is
stylish advertising, but it's wrong," preaches Vittachi. "It is a car: a metallic box with a wheel at each corner." Barely can I recall having
read such drivel.

Later, he is concerned for the welfare of the young Siddhartha Gautama - the Buddha - because of his wealthy upbringing at Lumbini,
on the India-Nepal border, where you can see "glorious mountain tops that seem to hang in the sky". Other children who grew up with
privilege also suffered personal problems, he says. "Think of Roman Emperor Caligula or even the eccentric singer Michael Jackson,"
he offers, rather bizarrely.

The ancient Indian king Ashoka is labelled a "rock diarist" because he erected inscribed stone columns. Several chapters on and even
the concept of a diary is too hard for Vittachi's reader to grasp and so Ashoka's columns are now "a sort of stone blog". Ridiculous,
dogmatic observations such as this abound. In respect of one ancient text, Vittachi opines: "Perhaps human beings really are no
smarter today than they were four or five millennia ago." Two pages later, he comes up with: "We have more and more facts at our
fingertips. But we actually know less and less."

The book feels like one of those mindless conversations you have with a hapless Hare Krishna because you're bored and your bus is
late. Clearly, someone thought it would be interesting to see if ancient Indian texts could be contorted into something like Sun Tzu's Art
of War. We now know they can't. "This book has many lessons in it," concludes Vittachi. It doesn't.

The Kama Sutra of Business: management principles from Indian classics, by Nury Vittachi, John Wiley & Sons, £9.99, ISBN:

Will Selangor fall in January?

Will Selangor fall in January?
3 Nov, 2009

So, Pakatan Rakyat, beware. Your days in Selangor may be numbered. Umno has given itself until January 2010 to take over the state. And they are doing many things simultaneously to ensure that they succeed.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Two weeks before the Pakatan Rakyat Perak state government fell I suggested they seek an audience with the Sultan of Perak and request that the Perak State Assembly be dissolved to make way for fresh state elections.

I spoke to Anwar Ibrahim about it and he told me that my anxiety is unfounded because he had already spoken to Lim Kit Siang and Kit Siang had assured him that the problem with Hee had already been resolved and that everything is under control.

I was, however, still adamant that they should request permission for the dissolution of the Perak State Assembly while they still controlled the majority in the Assembly. Once they lose this majority the Sultan need not consider Pakatan Rakyat’s request because Pakatan Rakyat will no longer be the Perak state government.

As long as Pakatan Rakyat is still the government the Sultan will have no excuse to turn down Pakatan Rakyat’s request. Even if he did turn down the Pakatan Rakyat request to dissolve the Perak State Assembly he will have no legitimate reason for doing so and it would be very obvious that the Sultan is a tool of Umno and he would appear like a slime-ball.

Anyway, that is now all water under the bridge and we now all know that the Sultan was bribed to bring down Pakatan Rakyat plus he was blackmailed with the Nazrin succession issue. In short, they gave the Sultan both the carrot and the stick and like any donkey subjected to the carrot-and-stick treatment Tuanku was meekly led by the nose.

But there are other things I wrote about and which I cautioned Pakatan Rakyat to be alert about. Pakatan Rakyat may control the majority in the Selangor State Assembly. But this does not mean it is in control of the state government.

Many within the Selangor state agencies and government departments are Umno loyalists. They were in fact placed there and promoted because of their links with Umno. So, while Pakatan Rakyat may control the top, it will never be able to control the bottom. In short, the head will move in one direction and the body in the opposite direction.

And the first thing that Khir Toyo did when Selangor fell to the opposition (other than to shred all the evidence of wrongdoing) was to instruct the Selangor state agencies and government departments to sabotage the Pakatan Rakyat government. And this is what they are doing, every day of the week. Thus the ‘funny things’ that are happening in Selangor including the beer issue and the arrest of the ex-Perlis Mufti and the temple demolitions and whatnot.

You could say that not only is the head moving in opposite directions from the body but the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing as well.

And this is how they will eventually bring down the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor -- by creating discontentment by doing a lot of ‘unpopular’ things to make life difficult for the people -- which will result in the voters becoming disgusted with the opposition and eventually kicking them out like what happened in Terengganu in 2004 after only five years of an opposition government.

I warned Ronnie Liu about this. And Ronnie Liu’s EXCO portfolio is the most controversial and difficult portfolio of all as it deals with local councils and whatnot, where most of the problems lie.

All they need to do is to not repair the roads or collect the rubbish or replace the burned out streetlights or repair the busted water pipes and the people will become agitated. It just requires sabotaging the ‘small things’ and the people will fuck the state government good and proper. It is really not that difficult to sabotage the Pakatan Rakyat state government when you only control the top but have no control over the bottom.

Many Chinese businessmen in Selangor are exasperated. Corruption is as high as ever. Nothing has changed since Pakatan Rakyat took over. The Umno warlords still control the land office and local councils and whatnot. If you want approval for your projects, licences, permits, or whatever, you need to talk to the Umno warlords. If you deal through Pakatan Rakyat and bypass the Umno warlords your project or application gets jammed.

The Chinese businessmen have discovered, to their horror, that they still need to seek out the Umno warlords and pay off huge sums of money to these Umno warlords if they want ‘smooth running’ of their businesses. Even when they go meet the Pakatan Rakyat people the Chinese businessmen find that the Pakatan Rakyat people can’t do a damn thing. The Pakatan Rakyat people can make phone calls to this person or that person but nothing will happen. But if the Chinese businessmen go meet the Umno warlords and pay the required ‘fees’ then everything will be settled.

Let me make this very clear. Pakatan Rakyat is NOT running Selangor. Umno is. So, if you want things to happen, forget about going to see the Pakatan Rakyat people. Go seek out the Umno warlords and pay some money, a lot of money, and everything will be plain sailing.

No, the dog does not wag the tail in Selangor. The tail wags the dog. Speak to any Chinese businessman doing business in Selangor and they will tell you this.

Umno has told ‘their people’ in the Selangor state agencies and government departments that by January 2010 Barisan Nasional is going to take back Selangor. So everything is now on hold. All applications and approvals and whatnot are being jammed until Barisan Nasional takes over. And the Pakatan Rakyat state government, those people at the top, are powerless to get things moving.

When you go and meet the people in the Selangor state agencies or government departments they will tell you to fuck off. Even if you complain to the Pakatan Rakyat people at the top all they can do is make phone calls. And the more you get the Pakatan Rakyat people to push the more you will get stuck. It is like driving in the mud. The more you accelerate the deeper you get bogged down.

So, January 2010 is supposed to be the date that Barisan Nasional takes back Selangor from Pakatan Rakyat. This is what Umno is telling their people in the state agencies and government departments.

Further to that, many within the Pakatan Rakyat government are going to find themselves facing all sorts of criminal charges, corruption charges included and Anwar Ibrahim included. Umno has asked its election machinery to get ready to face at least ten new by-elections as there are going to soon be ten empty seats.

Further to that, Barisan Nasional has many moles or sleepers within Pakatan Rakyat, in PKR, PAS as well as DAP. Yes, DAP included. These sleepers or moles will be activated at the right time like what happened in Perak. And that will be the end of the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Selangor.

So, Pakatan Rakyat, beware. Your days in Selangor may be numbered. Umno has given itself until January 2010 to take over the state. And they are doing many things simultaneously to ensure that they succeed. We warned you about Perak and you laughed. Now we are warning you about Selangor. Still want to laugh? You lose Selangor like you did Perak and this time I am really going to fuck you through and through. And this is no threat. This is a promise.

Malaysia rejects call to release 10,000 Bibles

Malaysia rejects call to release 10,000 Bibles

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian government has refused to release 10,000 Bibles confiscated for using the word "Allah" to refer to God, a banned translation in Christian texts in this Muslim-majority country, an official said Wednesday.

An official from the Home Ministry's publications unit said the government rejected pleas by church officials to allow the Bibles, imported from Indonesia, into the country. Christians say the Muslim Malay-dominated government is violating their right to practice their religion freely.

Such religious disputes are undermining Malaysia's reputation as a harmonious multiethnic, moderate Muslim nation. About 30 percent of the country's 28 million people practice Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or other faiths.

A Home Ministry official said the government told the importer last month to return the Indonesian-language Bibles, which are still with customs.

"Actually the publications, the Bibles are already banned," said the official, refusing to elaborate. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to make public statements.

The Bibles contain the word "Allah," which is banned by the government for use by non-Muslims in an apparent bid to appease Muslims.

Church officials say the word "Allah" has been used for centuries to refer generally to God in both Indonesian and Malaysian languages, which are similar. The Roman Catholic Church is challenging the ban in court.

The government maintains that the Arabic-origin word "Allah" is an Islamic word and its use by Christians and others will upset Muslims.

Another 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were confiscated in March and have not been released. But the ministry official did not immediately have any information on those.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which had called for the release of all Bibles, described the seizure as "ridiculous and offensive."

"This constitutional right (to practice freely) is rendered illusory if Christians in Malaysia are denied access to Bibles in a language with which they are familiar," the federation's chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing said in a statement.

He also rejected concerns that Bibles in the Malaysian language, or Bahasa Malaysia, containing "Allah," will upset Muslims.

"Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia have been used since before the independence of our country and have never been the cause of any public disorder," he said. Malaysia gained independence in 1957.

Malaysia's exports plunge 24.2% in September to US$13.8b

Malaysia's exports plunge 24.2% in September to US$13.8b
Posted: 04 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's exports, the mainstay of the economy, slumped 24.2 per cent in September from a year ago, according to official data released on Wednesday.

The trade ministry said in a statement that exports fell to 47.24 billion ringgit (13.8 billion dollars) year-on-year while imports fell 20.2 per cent to 37.97 billion ringgit, producing a trade surplus of 9.27 billion ringgit.

The latest data showed the pace of exports contraction has worsened after easing slightly last month. In August, Malaysian exports fell 19.8 per cent, compared with 22.9 per cent in July.

According to the ministry, total trade from January to September was worth 702.78 billion ringgit, a decrease of 23.2 per cent from a year earlier.

"The decline in exports in September 2009 was attributed mainly to the decrease in exports of crude petroleum, electrical and electronic products, iron and steel products, jewellery as well as textiles and clothing," it said.

Electrical and electronic items account for one-third of Malaysia's total exports to key markets like Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has said the economy will shrink by 3.0 per cent this year, but that it could bounce back and post modest growth of 2.0-3.0 per cent in 2010.

In its 2010 budget unveiled two weeks ago, the government slashed spending in a move to rein in a fiscal deficit swollen by stimulus measures aimed at pushing the economy out of recession.

The world's top 100 universities listed

The world's top 100 universities listed

Oxford is down and Tokyo is up. Find out how the world's universities did

A man at Cambridge University

Top 100 universities: Cambridge came second Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty

Oxford University has slipped in the international league table of the world's top universities - in a study which shows the advance of academia in Asia that will soon pose a challenge to the Ivy League and Oxbridge.

The study, from Times Higher Education and QS Top Universities shows that overall the UK still punches above its weight, second only to the US. The UK has four out of the top 10 slots and 18 in the top 100. But there has been a significant fall in the number of North American universities in the top 100, from 42 in 2008 to 36 in 2009.

However, the number of Asian universities in the top 100 increased from 14 to 16. The University of Tokyo, at 22, is the highest ranked Asian university, ahead of the University of Hong Kong at 24.

The world's top universities

2009 Rank
2008 Rank
School Name
11HARVARD UniversityUnited States
23University of CAMBRIDGEUnited Kingdom
32YALE UniversityUnited States
47UCL (University College London)United Kingdom
56IMPERIAL College LondonUnited Kingdom
54University of OXFORDUnited Kingdom
78University of CHICAGOUnited States
812PRINCETON UniversityUnited States
99MASSACHUSETTS Institute of Technology (MIT)United States
105CALIFORNIA Institute of Technology (Caltech)United States
1110COLUMBIA UniversityUnited States
1211University of PENNSYLVANIAUnited States
1313JOHNS HOPKINS UniversityUnited States
1413DUKE UniversityUnited States
1515CORNELL UniversityUnited States
1617STANFORD UniversityUnited States
1716AUSTRALIAN National UniversityAustralia
1820MCGILL UniversityCanada
1918University of MICHIGANUnited States
2024ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)Switzerland
2023University of EDINBURGHUnited Kingdom
2219University of TOKYOJapan
2322KING'S College LondonUnited Kingdom
2426University of HONGKONGHong Kong
2525KYOTO UniversityJapan
2629University of MANCHESTERUnited Kingdom
2721CARNEGIE MELLON UniversityUnited States
2828École normale supérieure, PARISFrance
2941University of TORONTOCanada
3030National University of Singapore (NUS)Singapore
3127BROWN UniversityUnited States
3233NORTHWESTERN UniversityUnited States
3230University of CALIFORNIA, Los Angeles (UCLA)United States
3432University of BRISTOLUnited Kingdom
3539HONG KONG University of Science and TechnologyHong Kong
3638University of MELBOURNEAustralia
3637University of SYDNEYAustralia
3936University of California, BERKELEYUnited States
4034University of BRITISH COLUMBIACanada
4143University of QUEENSLANDAustralia
4250École Polytechnique Fédérale de LAUSANNESwitzerland
4344OSAKA UniversityJapan
4349TRINITY College DublinIreland
4547MONASH UniversityAustralia
4642The CHINESE University of Hong KongHong Kong
4750SEOUL National UniversityKorea, South
4745University of NEWSOUTH WALESAustralia
4956TSINGHUA UniversityChina
4953University of AMSTERDAMNetherlands
5148University of COPENHAGENDenmark
5240NEW YORK University(NYU)United States
5250PEKING UniversityChina
5446BOSTON UniversityUnited States
5578Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM)Germany
5561TOKYO Institute of TechnologyJapan
5757HEIDELBERG UniversityGermany
5869University of WARWICKUnited Kingdom
5974University of ALBERTACanada
6064LEIDEN UniversityNetherlands
6165The University of AUCKLANDNew Zealand
6155University of WISCONSIN-MadisonUnited States
6381AARHUS UniversityDenmark
6371University of ILLINOIS, Chicago (UIC)United States
6572Katholieke Universiteit LEUVENBelgium
6675University of BIRMINGHAMUnited Kingdom
6766LONDON School of Economics and Political ScienceUnited Kingdom
6788LUND UniversitySweden
6995KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of ScienceKorea, South
7081University of YORKUnited Kingdom
7067UTRECHT UniversityNetherlands
7268University of GENEVASwitzerland
7377Nanyang Technological University (NTU)Singapore
7360WASHINGTON University in St. LouisUnited States
7563UPPSALA UniversitySweden
7658University of CALIFORNIA, San DiegoUnited States
7670University of TEXAS at AustinUnited States
78102University of NORTH CAROLINA, Chapel HillUnited States
7973University of GLASGOWUnited Kingdom
8059University of WASHINGTONUnited States
81106University of ADELAIDEAustralia
8276University of SHEFFIELDUnited Kingdom
8378DELFT University of TechnologyNetherlands
8483University of WESTERN AUSTRALIAAustralia
8554DARTMOUTH CollegeUnited States
8683GEORGIA Institute of TechnologyUnited States
8799PURDUE UniversityUnited States
8783University of STANDREWSUnited Kingdom
89108University College DUBLINIreland
9062EMORY UniversityUnited States
9186University of NOTTINGHAMUnited Kingdom
92120NAGOYA UniversityJapan
92106University of ZURICHSwitzerland
94137Freie Universität BERLINGermany
95124National TAIWAN UniversityTaiwan
9599University of SOUTHAMPTONUnited Kingdom
97112TOHOKU UniversityJapan
9893Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenGermany
99104University of LEEDSUnited Kingdom
10078RICE UniversityUnited States