Compiled by WONG LI ZA (March 2 - March 8)
MORE VARSITY PLACES (March 4): There will be an 11% increase in the number of places offered at public universities for Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia school leavers this year. From 2003, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia holders will also not be considered for entry into degree programmes.
NEW SABAH CM (March 5): Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Musa Aman will take over as Sabah Chief Minister from Datuk Chong Kah Kiat when the latter’s term ends on March 27.
BUILD FROM WITHIN (March 2): The Government will help local entrepreneurs invest in local ventures as the country can no longer depend on foreign direct investments to spur economic growth, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. This would ensure the domestic contribution to the economy could become more significant than foreign investments.
RM2bil STUDY LOANS (March 2): The National Higher Education Fund Corporation is offering a record RM2bil in study loans this year, said its chairman Datuk Ahmad Husni Hadnazlah. He said the allocation would be used to continue financing the fees of students already enrolled in 18 public universities and nearly 300 private universities and colleges. Over 100,000 new students were expected to benefit from this year’s allocation.
ZERO NESTING (March 3): It’s almost official – the famed Rantau Abang turtle sanctuary has ceased to be the nesting place of leatherback turtles. Fisheries Department data confirmed that not a single clutch of eggs was laid although three landings were detected during the recent nesting season between April and October last year. The three landings paled in comparison with the 10,000 recorded in the 1960s. The zero-nesting data came a year earlier than a turtle scientist’s prediction that the largest marine turtle, known by its scientific name Dermochelys coriacea, will cease to nest in Malaysia this year.
SPEED LIMIT UP (March 6): The Cabinet agreed to raise the maximum speed limit on highways to 120kph from the current 110kph.
TEMPORARY BAN (March 4): Indonesia has decided to temporarily stop sending women workers to work abroad as domestic helpers, baby-sitters and care-givers from this month. The temporary ban is to safeguard the welfare of its domestic workers, Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Hadi A. Wayarabi Alhadar said.
PUNISHED FOR SCAM (March 4): An unemployed man was jailed a total of 29 years and ordered to be given 19 strokes of the rotan over the Tabung Haji scam involving RM4.4mil two years ago. Ahman Khaironi Ahmad, 45, had on Feb 14 pleaded guilty at a Sessions Court here to 15 counts of cheating, impersonation and forgery involving the Tabung Haji funds.
FIRM HELD LIABLE (March 4): Mayban Finance Bhd was ordered by the High Court to compensate 18 people for their losses incurred following an underground tunnel robbery at one of its branches in 1995. Justice Abdul Hamid Said said the company was negligent as it had failed to safeguard the plaintiffs’ valuables, which were kept in the safe boxes.
AUDIT ACCOUNTS (March 7): The Government has ordered a thorough audit of all monies and accounts belonging to the squabbling factions in the National Union of Bank Employees.
ACTING PM (March 4): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be on a two-month leave from March 5 till May 4. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be Acting Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister during the period.
AS PLANNED (March 6): This year’s Umno general assembly will be held in June after all and not in October as speculated. The meeting will kick off with the presidential council meeting on June 17 and end on June 21.
PAY 13 MONTHS (March 2): Cuepacs is proposing that government employees be paid an annual salary of 13 months.
BUSH GOING AHEAD (March 8): US President George W. Bush says he will, within days, force a vote seeking UN authorisation to invade Iraq, a decision that ratchets up pressure on major powers opposing his push for Security Council backing. Dismissing Iraq's destruction of banned missiles as a charade, Bush reiterated he could launch a war without UN approval because US security was paramount.
MAJOR POWERS CLASH (March 8): The United States clashed bitterly with France, Germany, China and Russia at the UN Security Council, as all four nations stood firm against US plans to launch a war against Iraq soon.
MISSILES BEING DESTROYED (March 2): UN inspectors confirmed that Iraq had begun destroying its Al-Samoud 2 missiles and had agreed to a timetable to scrap the rest of them within a matter of weeks.
DAVAO BLASTS (March 5): At least 19 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in a bomb attack at a key airport in southern Philippines. The blast struck a shed outside the Davao airport terminal. Among those killed were four Americans. Another bomb exploded at a bus depot in Davao city but no one was injured while three others were wounded in a blast at a city health office in the nearby city of Taguma shortly after the airport attack.
US BOMBERS IN GUAM (March 6): With tension rising sharply over North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions, the United States is sending 24 B-1 and B-52 bombers to Guam to deter any aggression by Pyongyang in case of a war in Iraq.
OIC REJECTS WAR (March 6): The Organisation of Islamic Conference rejected any military action against Iraq, according to a communiqué released at the end of its one-day emergency summit in Doha. In a strongly-worded statement, member countries expressed categorical rejection of any strike against Iraq or a threat to the security and safety of any Islamic state. It emphasised the need to settle the Iraqi question through peaceful means within the framework of the United Nations.
ANTI-WAR DECLARATION (March 2): A fractious Arab summit ended with an anti-war declaration and plans to follow up with talks on resolving the Iraq crisis in Baghdad, Washington, European capitals and at the United Nations.
BAN STAYS (March 2): A US appeals court rejected an attempt by President George W. Bush to overturn a ruling banning a patriotic pledge recited by generations of American schoolchildren because it invokes God.
DRUG WAR DEATH TOLL (March 2): The death toll in Thailand's month-old war on drugs has exceeded 1,128, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said, admitting for the first time that police might have made some “mistakes.” The high death toll has provoked a torrent of criticism from rights activists, who have urged the government to investigate claims of police involvement in extra-judicial killings.
HAMAS FOUNDER ARRESTED (March 4): Israeli troops raiding a Gaza refugee camp arrested one of the founders of Hamas, Mohammed Taha, targeting the political leadership of the Islamic militant group for the first time in 29 months of fighting. Eight Palestinians, among them a pregnant woman, were killed in clashes in the camp.
TOP AL-QAEDA MAN IN CUSTODY (March 3): Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks and one of Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenants, was under interrogation by US FBI agents at an unknown location in Pakistan.
ANTI-SMOKING PACT(March 2): In a global bid to quit a habit that kills almost five million people a year, nearly 170 countries backed a tough pact against smoking, including advertising bans and pledges to boost tobacco taxes.
DERAILMENT (March 3): At least 17 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a train carrying tourists to Taiwan's scenic Mount Ali, or Alishan, derailed and rolled over.
TOP OPIUM PRODUCER (March 3): Afghanistan has toppled Myanmar as the world's top source of illicit opium, but the South-East Asian state is streaking ahead as the region's number one producer of amphetamines.