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Friday December 29, 2006

Significant milestones

Jan 11 


The government deferred the gazetting of the controversial Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Act 2005, which was passed in Parliament in December 2004. Several groups said the Act contained provisions that were unfair to women and enhanced Muslim men’s rights in polygamy and divorce cases. 


Jan 14 

MRR2 closed: The Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) viaduct in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, which was found to have cracks, was closed for repair works costing RM18mil. The MRR2, stretching 1.7km, had previously been closed from Aug 8, 2004 and reopened in November last year.  


Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (left) and Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed were picked as Malaysia’s first astronauts.
Jan 18  

Snoop team to disband: The Cabinet told the Federal Territory Religious Department (Jawi) to disband its “snoop team” which was set up to, apart from performing other tasks, help Jawi to tackle matters related to khalwat cases. 


Jan 20 

No amendment: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government would not amend Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution relating to the Syariah court. 

On Jan 19, 10 non-Muslim ministers submitted a memorandum that called for the review of laws affecting the rights of non-Muslims. 


Feb 3 

Bald uproar: The action by Kajang police to shave bald 11 men caught playing mahjong on the second day of Chinese New Year received widespread public indignation. The 11 men claimed trial in a Kajang magistrate’s court to a charge of illegal gambling at a public place. Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Noor Hakim, however, defended his men’s action, saying that under Section 9a of the Lock Up Rules, the police can shave a detainee’s head bald. 


Feb 9 

Permit suspended: The permit of The Sarawak Press Sdn Bhd, publisher of Sarawak Tribune, was suspended immediately for publishing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.  


Feb 14  

In March, the region’s first and largest low-cost carrier terminal was opened in Sepang, Selangor.
Cabinet reshuffle: The Cabinet was reshuffled, the first time since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Prime Minister. Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin became Information Minister, and Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique was made Federal Territories Minister.  

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed was appointed Higher Education Minister, while Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor returned to the Cabinet as Tourism Minister. Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad took over the Home Affairs Ministry from Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid who was made Natural Resources and Environment Minister.  

Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz retained her International Trade and Industry Minister post. Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir resigned as Information Minister.  


Feb 23 

Apology accepted: The New Straits Times (NST) was issued a show-cause letter by the Internal Security Ministry to explain why action should not be taken against it for printing a cartoon deemed offensive to Muslims. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi accepted NST’s front-page apology and said no action would be taken against the newspaper following its open apology. 


Feb 28  

Price hike: The price of petrol and diesel went up by 30 sen a litre, the highest increase in the past two years.  


March 21 

PM launches EnVo Diesel: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launches EnVo Diesel, the new biofuel for commercial use to replace fossil fuel in future. Costing the same as diesel at RM1.581 per litre, the biofuel will be available commercially next year and will be used in vehicles belonging to government departments and agencies. 


March 22 

Major moves: The government announced major moves under the National Automotive Policy, including reducing car prices and establishing only two national manufacturers. 


March 23  

Terminal opened: The region’s first and largest low-cost carrier terminal was opened in Sepang, Selangor. The 35,290sqm terminal is equipped with 72 check-in counters and has parking bays for 30 aircraft. 


April 12 

Scenic bridge scrapped: The Cabinet scrapped plans to build the proposed new scenic bridge across the Johor Straits to replace the Causeway because of legal implications and complications as well as the negative response of the people towards the conditions set by Singapore as a trade-off. 

Director Amir Muhammad’s Lelaki Komunis Terakhir(The Last Communist) was banned, despite getting much attention abroad.

April 24 

ASM shares: The RM1bil Amanah Saham Malaysia shares opened to all Malaysians were snapped up in record time of one hour and 45 minutes.  


May 9  

Movie ban: The government banned the movie Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist). The movie was written and directed by Amir Muhammad, who co-produced it with Red Films. It made its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February. 


June 1 

Costlier power: Electricity tariff in the Peninsula went up by 12%. It, however, did not affect the low-to-medium income groups that use less than 200kWh of electricity per month, as the existing rate of 21.8 sen per kWh remained unchanged. 

Those unaffected by the tariff increase accounted for 60% or 3.036 million of the 5.1million households in the peninsula that pay a monthly electricity bill of less than RM43.60. 


June 1 

PR requirement: Over 378,000 permanent resident (PR) status holders must change their identity card to the new MyPR card by Dec 31 next year or risk losing their PR status. 


June 14 

Cherie’s surprise appearance: Queen’s Counsel Cherie Blair made a surprise appearance at the Federal Court’s hearing for Fawziah Holdings’ appeal over her representing the company in the Metramac case. 


June 20  

City status for PJ: Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah officially declared Petaling Jaya a city. PJ fulfilled all the criteria to become a city, including having a population of more than 700,000 (well above the required 300,000); financial independence, with an annual income of RM190mil (compared with the required RM80mil); as well as having historical and cultural significance. 


June 21 

Free from bird flu: Malaysia was declared bird flu-free while neighbouring countries could import poultry from the country. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin said 58,457 birds and 8,437 eggs were destroyed during the outbreak, and RM450,000 in compensation was paid out. 

He said the origin of the disease had been traced to Vietnam, and the Hunan province in China.  


July 5  

Family commits suicide: A 30-year-old mother took her four children to the railway tracks in Sungei Gadut in Seremban and waited on the tracks for a train to arrive. M. Sanggita and two of her daughters, Sacheria, six and Esther, three, were run over and killed by a Singapore-bound express train. Her other daughter, Victoria, eight, and five-year-old son Jason managed to break free from her grip and ran.  

Victoria said her mother had let them skip classes and promised to take them to the movies on the morning of the incident, while a note written by Sanggita apologising to her family was later found in her closet.  

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development minister Datuk G. Palanivel later called on the Censorship Board to cut out suicide scenes as they might influence those facing serious problems to imitate such actions. 


July 12 

Appeal dismissed: The Federal Court dismissed an appeal by three pupils who were expelled from school for refusing to take off their serban nine years ago, stating that Islam is not about turbans and beards. 

The three-member panel (Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad, Justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamed and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim) was unanimous in its decision that not everything that the Prophet Muhammad did or the way he did it is legally or religiously binding on Muslims, or even preferable and should be followed. Abdul Hamid, in his written judgment, said the practice of wearing a turban was of little significance from Islam’s point of view, what more in relation to under-age boys. 


July 14 

Declassified: The government declassified relevant confidential documents and extracts for Malaysians to understand why it decided to abort the crooked bridge project. It was the second time in history that information protected by the Official Secrets Act was declassified and approved for public consumption. 


July 18 

New projects: The government announced 880 new development projects worth RM15bil under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.  


July 19 

Controversial guidebook withdrawn: The Cabinet ordered the controversial guidebook on ethnic relations used by Universiti Putra Malaysia in classes to be withdrawn immediately. 

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the book was too controversial and that another less sensitive book would be introduced after its contents had been reviewed by a panel of “experts,” including historians. 


Aug 2  

Go-ahead for second bridge: The Cabinet approved the building of the second Penang bridge and a monorail system on the island. The 24km bridge is estimated to cost RM2.8bil. 


Aug 6 

Tighter control: The government wants the Employees Provident Fund to tighten conditions for the withdrawal of savings to invest in unit trust funds following a newspaper report of accumulated losses of RM600mil.  

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said EPF should conduct stringent checks before allowing contributors to withdraw money.  


Aug 16 

Setback for PSM: Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) bid to form a political party at the national level failed again after the Court of Appeal dismissed its appeal. 


Aug 17 

Acquitted: Two men accused of abetment in the murder of the second wife of the Raja di-Hilir Perak, Hasleza Ishak, were freed, while another two who were charged with her murder, had their jail sentences reduced by the Federal Court. 

Palace aide Tengku Aristonsjah Tengku Mohamad Ansary, 43, and bomoh Rahim Ismail, 49, were acquitted and discharged by the three-man panel of judges which unanimously found that the subordinate courts had not given adequate judicial appreciation of the evidence against them. 


Aug 30 

LRT link: Public transport gets a shot in the arm with the announcement of a new 30km-long LRT line linking Kota Damansara and Cheras, which will be running by 2010. 


Sept 1 

Budget 2007: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tabled the Budget 2007 of RM159.4bil.  


Sept 4  

Malaysian astronauts: Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor and Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed are selected as Malaysia’s first astronauts. 


Sept 28 

Sports centre: The government approved the RM490mil High Performance Training Centre for Malaysian athletes in London.  


Sept 29 

No salary revision: The government shot down the request by Cuepacs and the police force for a salary revision. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad said the government was not ready to pay higher salaries as available funds are needed for development.  


Oct 22 

Face to face: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had a two-hour meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Sri Perdana to settle the differences between them. 

Dr Mahathir said he was satisfied with the meeting as he was able to speak frankly with Abdullah face to face on all the issues he had been publicly criticising the latter on during the recent months. 


Oct 31 

Hike in water tariffs: Water tariffs for residents of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya were raised. Consumers have to pay 13% more for every cubic metre used for the next 15 cubic metres, and 17.6% more for every cubic metre after 35 cubic metres. 


Dec 1 

Bar Council’s election marred: Three scrutineers for the Bar Council election found 50 fake ballots while the counting the votes. They immediately declared the election null and void, and called for a fresh election. The council, however, insisted that the scrutineers announced the result of the vote count.  

They refused to hold a fresh election as nothing could guarantee that they would not receive fake ballots again.  

A member of the Bar filed a suit against the Bar and the three scrutineers for acting beyond the scope of the Legal Profession Act when they declared the Bar Council election 2007-2008 void on Dec 1. The council had also lodged a police report. On Dec 11, the scrutineers agreed to complete the ballot count. 


Dec 12  

Satellite launch: The Measat-3 satellite was launched at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7.28am.  


Dec 15  

Toll hike: Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu announced the toll hike for five expressways effective Jan 1, 2007. The highways are Damansara-Puchong Expressway, Cheras-Kajang (or Grand Saga) Highway, Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway, Guthrie Corridor Expressway and Kesas (or Shah Alam) Expressway.  


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