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Tuesday January 1, 2013

Events and people to look out for in 2013

Cast your
votes: Prime
Minister
Datuk Seri
Najib Tun
Razak should
be calling for
polls anytime. Cast your votes: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should be calling for polls anytime.

Polls for sure

AFTER almost two years of waiting, Malaysians will definitely get to cast their vote before June 2013 when the 13th general elections must take place. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is busy spearheading his campaign as the Barisan Nasional coalition tries to wrest back states controlled by the opposition. It could be just a matter of weeks before parliament is dissolved.

China’s new boss

Xi Jinping, 60 this year, took over from Hu Jintao as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China in November, and will become China’s new president in March. Xi’s appointment ushers in a new style of leadership that’s more informal and down-to-earth – he addressed his fellow Standing Committee members as “colleagues” rather than “comrades”, and has eschewed the rhetorical Marxist style for plain and simple language in his speeches. Xi, son of a one-time Vice Premier, has promised to continue down the path of “reform and opening up” and to crack down on corruption. Up ahead, the Diaoyu/Senkaku problems and the US’s Asia pivot.

Royal baby

The world waits with bated breath for the birth of Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s first baby. The most eagerly awaited pregnancy hit headlines in just about every paper around the world as soon as it was announced by St James Palace.

Catherine is in her first trimester of pregnancy but is suffering from severe morning sickness.

Due to a change in the rules of succession, the royal couple’s first-born will likely be the heir to the throne, regardless of the baby’s gender. William will remain in the armed forces, amid speculation that he would give up his military career to increase his official commitments. His decision is believed to reflect his and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wish to raise their family away from the spotlight of full-time royal duties.

EU’s latest member

Croatia will join the European Union on July 1, 2013, as the 28th member state. Negotiations began in 2005, and originally, Croatia had been aiming for a 2007 accession date, which would have broken Slovakia’s record of 2.5 years of negotiations to complete the process. Negotiations, however, turned out to be tougher than expected.

China’s 3rd unmanned moon landing

China has completed the moon-orbiting task successfully and will launch the Chang’e-3 Moon Lander in the second half of 2013 to conduct the first soft-controlled landing of any spacecraft on the moon in 40 years. Chang’e-3 is expected to be retrieved in 2017 after its sampling of the moon’s surface.

China launched Chang’e-1 in 2007 and Chang’e-2 in 2010. The first retrieved lunar data and carried out an initial mapping of the surface, while the second created a full high-resolution map of the moon and high-definition images of the lunar landscape. “Chang’e” is the name of a legendary Chinese moon goddess.

Indian Mars probe

Come November, India will put an unmanned probe in orbit around Mars on a 10-month flight. The goal of the mission is to search for clues as to the “geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life” on Mars.

India’s space programme launched its first Earth satellite in 1975 and put an unmanned probe into orbit around the moon in 2008. If the 2013 mission is successful, India would become the first Asian country to reach Mars. A 1998 attempt by Japan failed to insert itself into Martian orbit, while a Chinese probe was lost along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission.

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi

He has been hailed as a statesman and called a pharaoh but Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a revolutionary politician who is now widely considered the most important man in the Middle East today, was not even in the race initially.

His rise to power has been startling, if not accidental. Morsi became the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief presidential candidate only after its first choice was disqualified on a technicality. Democratically elected, Morsi and his Islamist allies are now changing the landscape of Middle-Eastern politics. He played a historic role in brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and is definitely in prime position to shape the region’s future. The last couple of months, he has been locked in a crisis as he attempts to dismantle Hosni Mubarak’s institutional legacy.

Hiroyuki Sanada

He may not be as famous as his countryman Ken Watanabe but Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, 52, is hitting the big time. The rugged bloke, an accomplished martial artist, is well-known in his homeland with roles in such films as the original Ring, as well as smaller roles in Lost and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. This year, he will focus exclusively on Hollywood productions, portraying a samurai alongside Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, and the villain to Hugh Jackman’s titular character in The Wolverine.

Mad Max

American broadcaster, film-maker and funnyman Timothy Maxwell “Max” Keiser is gaining a big reputation for hosting his weekly financial programmes broadcasted on RT (Russia Today) and for anchoring On The Edge, a programme of news and analysis hosted by Iran’s Press TV.

He has exposed many corrupt banking practices besides supporting the made-in-Ireland musical called Anglo: The Musical. It’s based on an original story by Johnny Morrison, Darren Smith and Colm Tobin, and features puppets that take on the personas of Ireland’s rich and famous. Mad Max says London will burn when current economic mess erupts.

Henry Cavill

British actor Henry Cavill was once dubbed the “unluckiest man in Hollywood”, having been considered but turned down for the roles of Superman in Superman Returns, James Bond in Casino Royale, Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and Edward Cullen in Twilight.

However, 2013 will see Cavill having a second chance at Superman, playing the iconic hero in Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel alongside greats such as Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Costner. It pays to be persistent!

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