MARKET BOOST (Jan 11): The share market received a major boost when a newly established asset management company with about RM10bil worth of funds began operations.
Valuecap Sdn Bhd, equally owned by Khazanah Nasional Sdn Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen, will invest the amount in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange over a period of time depending on the value of the stocks and timing opportunities.
SMOOTH SWITCH (Jan 6): No major problems were encountered when more than 200,000 Year One and Form One pupils in three states started their Mathematics and Science lessons in English.
Education authorities in Terengganu, Kelantan and Kedah – the three states that began the new school year – reported the switch to English after about 25 years to be smooth.
However, they expected minor hiccups to crop up over the next few weeks and would gather feedback daily to ensure teething problems were rectified immediately.
ADOPTING MERITOCRACY (Jan 10): The Education Ministry will retain meritocracy as the basis for intake into public institutions of higher learning and extend its implementation this year to all faculties. Following last year's trial implementation, students with matriculation and Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) qualifications will vie for places this May in the country's 17 public universities and university-colleges based solely on merit.
RENEGOTIATE TERMS (Jan 9): The Education Ministry will renegotiate the conditions for incentive payment to Maths, Science and English teachers by the Public Services Department (PSD) to ensure that all qualify for it instead of only a small number.
The ministry was caught unawares by the conditions set in the PSD circular that came into effect on Jan 1, which stated that primary school teachers have to teach the subjects at least 20 periods a week and secondary school teachers at least 15 periods to qualify for payment.
UNIFORM LAW (Jan 7): The Women and Family Development Ministry and the Perlis government have agreed on the urgent need to standardise Islamic family laws following the controversy over the ruling on polygamy in the state.
Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she would bring the matter up to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Islamic Family Law headed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and the Cabinet.
LAWS ON POLYGAMY (Jan 8): Enactments governing the practice of polygamy in states where the consent of the existing wife and court are needed before the men are allowed to take another wife do not contradict the syariah law, said National Fatwa Council chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim. He said the enactments were formulated in accordance with the syariah law to protect the rights of affected women and children.
TOUGH INCEST LAWS (Jan 10): Incestuous relations by consent will carry a prison term of between 15 and 30 years and a minimum of 10 strokes of the rotan, the Cabinet has decided.
Under a proposed amendment to the Penal Code, incestuous rape resulting in death will be punishable by the death sentence, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.
Currently sections 375 and 376 deal with rape and sections 376A and 376B deal with non-consensual incest.
A rape conviction carries a jail term of between five and 20 years and whipping.
The provision for incest as a separate offence – which was passed by the Parliament only in 2001 – carries a penalty of between six and 20 years jail and whipping.
COMPANIES ACT REVIEW (Jan 11): The Malaysian Companies Act, enforced since 1965, will be reviewed to help Malaysian company directors become more competitive and efficient, compatible with the world's best.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said corporate governance would be the main guideline for company directors.
He said this would help them be globally competitive and at the same time employ a world standard of efficiency in their operations.
TOLL-FREE (Jan 8): Thousands of people gathered at the Jalan Kuching toll plaza on the eve of its closure after 16 years of toll collection.
Before the stroke of midnight, many of the north-bound motorists such as to Selayang and Rawang tried to avoid paying toll by parking on the side of roads.
At midnight, the toll lights were shut as the concession period ended.
The Government did not extend the toll collection contract with Kamunting Corporation Bhd when it expired, marking the end of the first toll road in the country.
KEEPING TRACK (Jan 8): Singapore-registered vehicles entering any of the two entry points in Johor will have their movements recorded by a fully computerised vehicle scanning system from Jan 9.
The RM2.9mil system installed by the Road Transport Department (JPJ), will among others, monitor the smuggling of vehicles into the country as it will allow authorities to detect those that enter but do not return to the republic either through the Causeway here or the Second Link.
PACT SIGNING (Jan 9): Malaysia and Singapore will sign the Special Agreement to refer the Pulau Batu Puteh dispute to the International Court of Justice on Feb 6.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Singapore Foreign Minister Prof. S. Jayakumar will sign the agreement at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya.
The island dispute arose in 1979 and Malaysia and Singapore agreed in 1998 on the signing of the terms of reference for the special agreement.
PRICE RISE (Jan 9): The prices of diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) may increase between one sen and three sen in the next few months due to the price increase of the commodities in the international market. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had indicated that the Government would not be able to absorb the price increase as it had already given a lot of subsidies in fuel prices.
FOREIGNNUKE TREATY PULLOUT (Jan 11): North Korea, warning of a “Third World War,” withdrew from the global treaty that bars it from making nuclear weapons but said it was willing to talk to Washington to end the escalating crisis.
Earlier, Washington said North Korea was already violating the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by secretly pursuing weapons development and flouting UN safeguards.
The United States believes North Korea already has one or two nuclear bombs.
PRICE INCREASE ANGER (Jan 6): Opposition to the Indonesian government's new year price hikes grew louder as politicians urged the immediate cancellation of the increases and others warned of possible violence. The government's decision to boost fuel prices by up to 22% on Thursday, following an increase in electricity and telephone surcharges by as much as 15% on Wednesday, was inappropriate, said Amien Rais, the head of the country's top consultative body.
SPACE CAPSULE SUCCESS (Jan 7): As China celebrated the return of its largest unmanned space capsule from orbit, state television offered a rare glimpse into its secretive astronaut programme, showing two men training in simulated weightlessness.
The brief footage on the national midday news came during a report on the landing on Sunday of the Shenzou IV capsule after a week-long flight that officials said could lead to a manned launch this year.
RING OF STARS (Jan 8): A newly discovered giant ring of stars on the outskirts of the Milky Way could be evidence of our galaxy's violent birth, astronomers said on Monday.
Two scientific teams saw the ring slowly circling outside the Milky Way, with perhaps 100 million to half a billion stars distributed around it.
One commentator said it appeared to be part of a smaller galaxy ripped apart by our galaxy's gravitational force.
BALLISTIC MISSILE TEST (Jan 10): India tested a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, drawing immediate condemnation from Pakistan and stoking simmering tensions between the neighbours.
The missile, a variant of the Agni 1, was test-fired at a remote coastal range in the eastern state of Orissa witnessed by Defence Minister George Fernandes, said spokesman P.K. Bandopadhyay.
It is India's first intermediate-range missile and has a range of about 800km.
It can be launched from rail and road missile launchers, giving it high mobility.
FINAL CAMPAIGN (Jan 11): The United States on Thursday launched a last-ditch campaign to prevent Libya from assuming the chairmanship of the UN Commission on Human Rights later this month, state department officials said.
However, officials speaking on condition of anonymity expressed doubts their effort would succeed and predicted Libya's leadership would badly damage the commission's credibility.