PUFFING PAST STANDARD (March 24): The prevalence of smoking in Malaysia is higher than the world standard and the habit is spreading among teenagers, with about 50 new smokers below the age of 18 emerging daily, according to a study. While the prevalence rate stood at 47%, a National Morbidity Survey showed that the rate in Malaysia was 2.2% higher, according to the study revealed by the Malaysian Medical Association.
DNA ADVANCE (March 25): The Chemistry Department is now able to accurately and speedily identify bacteria that cause food poisoning and water contamination through DNA tests, said Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding during the launch of the department's new DNA Bacteria and Virus laboratory on Monday. He said the DNA method produces accurate results within two days compared with the conventional technique which took between one and two weeks.
HELPING SINGLE MOTHERS (March 25): Single mothers need not face their plight alone as the Government is willing to help and support them – provided they make the first move. Women and Family Development Ministry's legal adviser Ahmad Razif Mohd Sidek said single mothers needed to first register with the ministry. He said the ministry had taken steps to help single mothers by giving emotional support and offering various programmes to assist them with financial planning.
FINE FOR DELAYS (March 26): Taxpayers who have sent in their forms before the deadline may still be fined for delays if the document is incomplete and has to be returned to them, resulting in late submission. Inland Revenue Board Principal assistant director for corporate services division Mahhani A. Manan advised taxpayers to file their income tax form as early as possible to avoid being fined.
LACKING HUMAN SIDE (March 26): News audiences need to be more interrogative of the Iraqi war coverage by the media, several communications lecturers said. Monash University Malaysia communications lecturer Dr Yeoh Seng Guan said while CNN's war coverage was technically sophisticated and superior, it was missing out on the human side of the war. Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations Development Programme's two-day “National Conference on the Future of the Media in a Knowledge Society,'' he said the use of computerised graphics to demonstrate the artillery that will be used in the war also tied in with the notion of precision bombing that would not hurt civilians.
WOMEN SYARIAH JUDGES (March 27): After a lengthy polemic among various religious bodies and authorities, it has been agreed that women can be appointed as judges in the syariah courts. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin said this was one of the proposals included in the plan to re-structure the syariah courts.
WAR AFFECTED FIRMS (March 27): The Government will assist any company which may be adversely affected by the war in the Middle East should the situation take a turn for the worse. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said the Government did not want any company to suffer financially as this could lead to other parties facing problems.
PRICE MAINTAINED (March 27): The Government will continue to maintain petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas prices for April despite steep increases in world prices for crude oil. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet made the decision on Wednesday, despite having to absorb RM738mil in subsidies and tax exemptions for the month.
ECOSYSTEM ATTRACTION (March 29): Malaysians can experience a piece of Antarctica without leaving the country once a RM25mil project to feature three different ecosystems at the Langkawi Underwater World is completed in October. In addition to the existing building, a new one will be constructed to display the Amazonian, sub-Antarctic and Antarctic ecosystems and house a three-dimensional (3D) theatre.
DISCUSS LEGAL FEES (March 29): Potential clients should always discuss the question of fees with lawyers before appointing them, said newly-elected Bar Council chairman Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari. Under the Legal Profession (Practise and Etiquette) Rules 1978, he said, lawyers were entitled to exercise their discretion on how much to charge in litigious or contentious matters.
BAGHDAD ROCKED (March 29): The biggest bombs dropped on Baghdad so far – two “bunker busters” – struck a communications tower in intense US bombardment on Friday while residents said eight people died in a raid on the Baath party office. In the south, British officers said Iraqi fighters defending Basra fired on hundreds of civilians who were trying to flee.
FEAR HEIGHTENS (March 25): Four schools in Hong Kong were ordered shut for a week after 182 of their students were found to have family members who have contracted the deadly atypical pneumonia. Many parents had expressed fear of their children catching the disease while at school.
LOOKING FOR 55 (March 27): Fifty-five Malaysians are among 2,000 people being traced by health authorities worldwide after it was discovered they had stayed at the Metropole Hotel in Mongkok, located in Waterloo Road Kowloon, Hong Kong where the atypical pneumonia outbreak is believed to have originated. The guests had been in the hotel from Feb 18 to March 3 - a period in which, officials believed, they were exposed to the killer virus.
MISSILE TESTS (March 27): India test-fired a nuclear-capable missile. Several hours later, Pakistan tested a similar missile with range to hit India, officials said.
SPY SATELLITE LAUNCHED (March 28): Confronted with growing fears of a missile test by North Korea, Japan launched its first two spy satellites on Friday.
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