SERVICE FIRST (May 5): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who resumed work on this day after a two-month leave, told civil servants not to keep on demanding higher salaries, saying this would make the country poor and raise the cost of living. He said civil servants should think not just about compensation or salaries but in terms of job satisfaction and their contributions to national development.
SPECIAL ALLOWANCE (May 6):The Health Ministry is preparing a proposal for healthcare workers involved in the fight against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome to be paid a special allowance. Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the proposal, which would be presented to the Cabinet next week, would also include paying an allowance to certain people who had to undergo quarantine as they could have suffered loss of income.
EMPHASIS ON ENGLISH (May 6): A minimum of 30% of the course content for science and mathematics degree programmes at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia will be taught in English by 2005. This includes dentistry, medicine, engineering, health sciences, information technology and others.
LESS EXAM-CENTRED (May 7): School-based assessment will in future contribute to the overall grade of public examinations to make the education system less exam-centred, Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said. He said while the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia would not be abolished in favour of school-based assessment, they would have less bearing on students' overall grade.
QUALITY STUDENTS ONLY (May 8): Foreign embassies issuing student visas to Malaysian medical students must ensure that applicants meet all prerequisites for entry. This is in light of the increasing number of under-qualified students attempting to pursue medical studies, especially at Russian and Ukrainian universities.
MAID RULING STAYS (May 7): Non-Muslim employers can continue to hire Muslim maids, following a decision to maintain the current ruling on foreign domestic help. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the foreign maids, however, would be required to sign an agreement letter declaring their willingness to work for non-Muslim employers.
FROZEN EMBRYOS (May 8): Islam allows the use of frozen embryos in conjunction with other assisted reproductive techniques for married couples facing difficulties in having children through normal conception. The National Fatwa Council clarified that the use of frozen embryo fell into the same category as invitro fertilisation, which has been accepted by the council since 1982.
TACKLING NEW DISEASE (May 9): The Government is setting up a research laboratory to look at new diseases that are drug-resistant. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Government would invest heavily to undertake such research because many new diseases are expected to hit the world.
SPONSORSHIP DEAL (May 7): Proton cars will get national exposure in Britain in the next English football season following a three-year sponsorship deal with First Division Norwich City. Proton chief executive officer Tengku Mahaleel Ariff said with some 35,000 club supporters in the country, the sponsorship would give Proton cars the recognition they presently lacked.
MYKID CARD (May 7): An identification card with almost similar features to the multi-purpose MyKad will be available for children below 12 years old soon. The card, called MyKid (short for Malaysia Kad Identiti Diri), will be issued to parents of newborn babies upon request along with the birth certificate.
KEEPING TABS (May 7): Any product found to be detrimental to the health of consumers can be suspended and deregistered by the Health Ministry, said parliamentary secretary S. Sothinathan. He said although they were registered for sale, health products were continually being monitored to ensure they comply with the original composition.
PORN CLEANUP (May 10): A joint assault on hot spots in the pornographic VCD industry will be launched next week to clean up the smut that is flooding the market. Police and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry will go after the manufacturers, production houses and street peddlers to stamp out the menace.
INTERIM GOVT (May 6): The United States said Iraq should have an interim national leadership in place by the middle of this month. Jay Garner, retired US general in charge of post-war reconstruction in Iraq, said he expected up to nine Iraqis to form an interim leadership group that would be a point of contact for the Americans.
SHIFTING FOCUS (May 6): The United States is shifting the focus of its North Korea policy from preventing the production of nuclear material to blocking the export of such material, the New York Times reported. The policy of preventing North Korea from going nuclear by any means necessary dates to 1994 when then-president Bill Clinton warned Pyongyang that producing plutonium could result in a US attack on its nuclear facilities.
MIDWEST TORNADOES (May 6): Swarms of violent thunderstorms and tornadoes crashed through Midwest's midsection, killing at least 32 people in the states of Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Houses across the region were blown apart by the storms.
SUPER COW (May 8): South African and Danish scientists have carried out Africa's first animal cloning, a calf born last month at a research institute near Johannesburg, a researcher at the Embryo Plus centre has said. The 32kg calf was named Fut meaning 'replica' or 'repeat' in Zulu.
500 MARK PASSED (May 9): The global death toll from SARS passed 500 after China reported five more deaths from an illness the government is trying desperately to stop spreading out of control in the countryside. The Health Ministry said 146 more people had been infected, taking the number of cases to 4,698, the bulk of the world's total, while deaths totalled 224.
BAD FOR HEALTH (May 9): Vitamins and mineral supplements could cause more harm than good, Britain's Food Standard Agency warned. The warning is issued as the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals reports that several of the most popular supplements could have long-term health implications.