Friday, December 27, 2013

The Star Online: Nation

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The stage is set for the highly anticipated "The King of Kings" concert, featuring illustrious South Indian music maestro Illaiya raaja (pic).

His children, musicians Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Bhavatharini, assured fans attending the concert in Stadium Merdeka tomorrow that their father will be present despite his recent health scare.

Illaiyaraaja, 70, was hospitalised for a mild heart attack at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India on Monday.

"The first thing my father asked me was if he could still make it for the concert.

"He's so committed to the show. Instead of keeping us by his bedside, he made us come here to keep things going," Karthik Raja told a press conference here yesterday.

Throughout his 40-year career, Illaiyaraaja has composed over 4,500 songs and provided scores for over 950 Indian films in various languages.

Ready for concert: (From left) Yuvan Shankar Raja, Karthik Raja and Bhavatharini posing at the press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

He was conferred the title "Isaignani" (maestro) in 1988, and has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates both from India and other countries.

Meanwhile, Yuvan Shankar Raja said they were awaiting the result of a last medical test before doctors can give his father the green light to travel.

"So far, the doctors have not advised against my father flying to Malaysia, although he might have to bring a medical team along with him," he added.

The concert will be the biggest Indian music concert in Asia outside India.

Dubbed the Illaiyaraaja family show, it includes his nephews, film director Venkat Prabhu and actor Premgi Amaran.

Among the stars who have already arrived for the four-hour concert are singers Mano and Haricharan, along with actors Aravind Akash and Vaibhav Reddy.

Over 15,000 tickets have been snapped up for the mega-event, which is also attended by popular singers S.P. Bala, K.S. Chitra, Krish and Madhu Balakrishnan, actors Ramarajan, Poornima Jayaram and Ramki and acclaimed directors P. Vasu and Gautham Vasudev Menon.

Backing them up will be 70 orchestra performers from India. Collectively, the performers are expected to present about 45 songs from the legendary musician.

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: This year's Christ mas celebration has been a bittersweet occasion for Trinity Chil dren's Home.

It has not received any invitation from any organisation to celebrate the special day with them.

"The children are disappointed. They were hoping to visit some interesting places," said the home's assistant administrator Daisy Abishegam.

She said that unlike previous years, none of the children had been invited to attend Christmas events at hotels this time.

"Nevertheless, the children have remained positive and opted to look on the bright side," she added.

"None of us will be going home to our families, so we will celebrate Christmas together," said 12-year-old Brian Stanley.

Brian and his brother Steven, 10, have called the place home for seven years.

During Christmas last year, they both played Santa Claus.

"We wanted to make the other children happy. We dressed up as Santas," the boys said.

Despite it being the Christmas season, the children do not ask about their parents as they feel that they have nothing to worry about since the place feels like home.

The children fondly call their three caregivers -- Mary, Helen and Daisy -- citti, which means younger mother in Tamil.

The children also regard the co-founders of the home -- Joseph and Nancy Clements -- as their parents.

Trinity Children's Home runs on donations and sponsorships, and houses 20 children at any one time.

The children at the home come from broken families.

In some cases, they had been abused.

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Foreign students can directly check the status of their student visa applications through an online dashboard system that is expected to go live next month.

The dashboard will be manned by Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), an Education Ministry one-stop centre to streamline the processing of student visas.

"Students will be able to log in with their passport numbers and see the application status.

"They can then see where exactly their passports are, and if their applications have been sent back to the college due to insufficient documentation," Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan told The Star yesterday.

He said Immigration Department officers would help speed up the visa application process.

Many foreign students had reportedly faced delays in visa renewal.

Some said their passports were withheld for months while others claimed the delay had caused them to pay extra for special passes in order to continue staying in the country.

Kamalanathan said he had received about 200 e-mails from international students who had such problems.

"I have been trying my best to reply to each e-mail. All cases are being sent to EMGS," he said.

"EMGS has assured me it will help as much as it can, although the final approval for the visas is still up to the Immigration Department."

Kamalanathan had earlier said international students who were still waiting for their passports to be returned could contact him at .

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