BUSINESS FRIENDLY (Jan 24): The Government is beefing up measures to make Malaysia more attractive and competitive to investors, including giving faster public sector service and standardising the issuance of licenses. For a start, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, automatic consent for approved manufacturing projects and measures to speed up approvals, especially for land matters, would be carried out immediately.
STUDENTS FINGERPRINTED (Jan 25): Malaysian students arriving in the United States this month for the spring intake of universities and colleges were interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by US Immigration and Naturalisation Service officers before being allowed into the country.
LAWS ACT AS GUIDE (Jan 25): The Federal Territory syariah regulations will be used to standardise syariah laws in the country, said Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. She said the newly set-up Inter-Ministerial Committee on Islamic Family Law had agreed to use the Federal Territory laws as a draft.
ALL-OUT WAR (Jan 22): The National Drugs Council has decided on all-out action to free the country of the drug menace by 2015 by creating an atmosphere of “war” and involving all sections of society. Among the strategies outlined during the meeting are to conduct a blitz against the menace in the electronic media, instil an “anti-drug” culture, activate all agencies and NGOs to organise programmes to enhance discipline and morality among the public and tighten enforcement on addicts, traffickers and drug laboratories.
THE FOURTH MAN (Jan 21): Indonesian police have named another Malaysian as a key suspect in the October Bali bombing and said four people arrested in West Java in November were would-be suicide bombers. They say Zulkifli Marzuki, attended a Bangkok meeting in February last year. The meeting was also attended by leaders of the Jemaah Islamiah, including a top operative called Hambali, and discussed plans to stage bombings in Singapore and Malaysia.
TOTAL SUPPORT (Jan 20): To give more bite to its fight against the drug menace, the Government will now fully fund all administrative costs of Pemadam, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. Pemadam currently spends RM1.2mil each year. At present, the Government gives it only a token sum of RM100,000 and the association raises the rest through activities.
PROVEN PATH (Jan 21): Malaysia will continue the path charted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad towards achieving the goals of Vision 2020, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Abdullah, who will succeed Dr Mahathir in October, said it would be short-sighted and counter-productive to introduce new policies merely “to stamp my name on them.”
‘CLEAN’ VOTERS REGISTERED (Jan 20): The first batch of 44,836 “clean” voters, whose address in their identity card matches those of their voting constituency, have been registered by the Election Commission in an all- year-round exercise which began July last year. EC secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said these voters were “automatically” cleared of any suspicion of being “phantom or imported” voters.
US COURSES HIT (Jan 19): Only American programmes are likely to be affected by the new policy requiring Form Five school-leavers to obtain a pre-university qualification as prerequisite for pursuing a degree. National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Dr Mohamed Thalha Alithamby said presently students with Form Five qualifications could apply for an American degree. He said institutions of higher learning that offered American degree programmes would have to renegotiate their terms.
MUTUAL CHECK (Jan 21): Two customs officers will be sent to the United States and stationed at ports there to check containers coming to Malaysia for terrorism threats. Under the Container Security Initiative, these officers would be responsible for ensuring that the containers did not contain firearms or any kind of weapon of mass destruction. Under the mechanism two US customs officers would be stationed at Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas Port.
GUNS ISSUE (Jan 22): Only enforcement officers dealing with video compact disc piracy will be issued with firearms, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
MONTH FOR TRANSFERS (Jan 23): The Education Ministry has given Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) teachers a month to apply for transfers from community religious schools to government schools. The teachers have from Jan 27 to Feb 28 to do so at state and district education offices that have been notified to accept applications for transfers.
SOLDIER ALIVE (Jan 22): RMAF commando Sjn Saad Che Omar, 34, who went missing after the boat carrying him and five others capsized in the South China Sea near Pulau Sibu on Sunday, was found alive at 6pm on Tuesday, after 31 hours in the sea.
PM IN LEBANON (Jan 21): Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived here with a high-powered delegation of ministers, top government officials and corporate leaders for a two-day working visit, seen as reflecting Malaysia’s further commitment to helping in the reconstruction of Lebanon. The Prime Minister had during his first official visit here in 1997 offered to help Lebanon in its national reconciliation and economic recovery efforts, and this was followed by a recent announcement of a US$300mil (RM1.14bil) concessionary loan to the country.
FOREIGNARMS SEARCH (Jan 19): Chief UN disarmament inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei return to Iraq today, calling for greater co-operation from a defiant President Saddam Hussein who has vowed to fight any US-led war. The inspections had “come a long way”, Blix said.
'NO' TO WAR (Jan 19): Protesters opposed to war on Iraq gathered for mass demonstrations around the world on Jan 18. With Washington massing troops and equipment in the Gulf and Iraq declaring itself mobilised for battle, thousands of demonstrators in the United States, Britain, Japan, France, Syria, Russia, Italy, Yemen, Ireland, Cyprus and Pakistan took to the streets to say “no” to war.
MEGAWATI TO RUN (Jan 23): Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri said she would run in next year’s elections and challenged critics whom she alleged were backing calls for her to step down.
LIMITED TERM (Jan 22): A future Palestinian state will be a democracy led by a president who may not serve more than two five-year terms, according to a draft constitution aimed at implanting reforms key to any peace accord with Israel. The drafts also says the envisaged Palestine would have East Jerusalem as its capital.
ALTERNATIVE FORUM (Jan 25): Thousands of people from across the globe marched for peace and more socially inclusive economic growth on Thursday to mark the opening day of the third annual World Social Forum in southern Brazil.
BUSHFIRES (Jan 20): A state of emergency was in force in Canberra after its worst-ever wildfires swept its suburbs, killing four people.
SUIT THROWN OUT (Jan 24): McDonald’s Corp won a major victory for the fast-food industry on Wednesday when a federal judge threw out a widely watched lawsuit that blamed Big Macs, fries and Chicken McNuggets for obesity in children. US District Judge Robert Sweet said the plaintiffs failed to show that customers of the world’s largest fast-food chain were unaware that eating too much McDonald’s fare could be unhealthy.
MORE JOBLESS (Jan 25): The number of jobless worldwide has risen by 20 million people over the past two years and hundreds of millions more are employed but make so little money they can barely survive, the United Nations labour agency said.