FUTURE THREATS (June 20): The people, especially the Malays, must equip themselves with the values, knowledge and skills to meet future threats facing the nation, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. On top of that, they must be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good of the masses, the Prime Minister and Umno president said in his farewell presidential address at the Umno general assembly. He also warned of old threats the nation still had to contend with and new ones that would test the resilience of the party and the people.
NEW ROLE (June 15): The Youth and Sports Ministry is working with the Education Ministry to use the Rakan Muda programme as a pre-national service for students. Its minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said the move would provide the Rakan Muda programme with a “jump start” while at the same time consolidate resources to expand the national service programme.
LOWER RETURNS (June 16): The EPF recorded a 2.1percentage point drop in investment returns for the first quarter of the year compared with the previous quarter. In a statement, EPF public relations senior manager Nik Affendi Jaafar cited negative returns as at March 31 from five of its portfolios for the decline, the highest being in the equities portfolio. He said that other than sovereign bonds, returns from all other portfolios saw a decrease.
OPTION TO DEFER (June 17): School-leavers going overseas to further their studies can choose to take part in the national service programme at a later date if they cannot make it for the first year. They will also be allowed to sign up after they return from their studies, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
TRAVEL BAN LIFTED (June 18): The World Health Organisation has lifted the travel advisory against Taiwan but not for China and Hong Kong. The overall global Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome situation is improving but it is still too early to say if the travel advisories against the two countries would be lifted within a specific timeframe.
LANGUAGE CLASSES (June 20): Mandarin and Tamil will be introduced in national schools to encourage students to learn additional languages and to promote racial unity. Deputy Education Minister Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin said teachers would be trained to meet these needs. Aziz said the Government felt Mandarin had to be given importance as it was widely used globally.
FULL BACKING (June 16): Umno leaders, from the vice-presidents to state liaison committee chiefs, have pledged to endorse whoever Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi picks as his deputy to avoid a power struggle after Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad steps down in October.
NEW PRESIDENT (June 21): Gombak District Officer Ramli Mahmud is the new Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president. Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, who announced the appointment, said Ramli was the right choice as he was a friendly person. His appointment will be effective from tomorrow.
ForeignHUNT FOR LOYALISTS (June 17): US troops scoured the hostile territory around Baghdad for diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists blamed for recent attacks, after a new ambush on an American convoy wounded several soldiers. US Central Command said it had launched a new mission, Operation Desert Scorpion, to hunt for guerrillas who have mounted several deadly attacks in the restive towns and villages to the north and west of the Iraqi capital.
PLAN EXPOSED (June 15): Terror suspects had planned to bomb several western embassies in Thailand during the Apec Summit when leaders from 21 nations gather in Bangkok in October, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. He said the information was based on the written confession of alleged Jemaah Islamiah terror network member Arifin Ali of Singapore, who was arrested in Bangkok in May and handed over to Singaporean authorities. The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum is scheduled for Oct 20 and 21. US President George W. Bush and 20 other regional and world leaders are expected to attend.
SECURITY DEAL (June 16): Israel and the Palestinians pursued a security deal focused on an Israeli troop pullback in return for a crackdown on Islamic militants after a week of violence that battered a US-backed peace plan. In another challenge to the “road map” affirmed at a June 4 peace summit in Jordan, Jewish settlers have quietly set up five new outposts in the occupied West Bank since Israel began dismantling such sites last week, a monitoring group said.
IRANIANS SLAM US (June 16): Iran's normally feuding officials closed ranks to criticise the United States for backing five nights of pro-democracy protests by thousands here. There were reports of smaller demonstrations in at least three other cities, a sign the momentum of the protests, which Washington hailed as a cry for freedom, may be gathering pace. Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of “flagrant interference in Iran's internal affairs” and said US officials were overstating the significance of the events.
NEW CLASH (June 15): At least 10,000 villagers have fled their homes in Indonesia's rebellious Aceh province to escape fresh fighting or because they were ordered to evacuate for their own safety, witnesses said. Carrying bedding, clothes and cooking utensils, residents of nine villages streamed into Bireun town on Friday and took shelter in tents, witnesses said.
MIGRANT KIDS ABUSED (June 20): The United States annually locks up over 5,000 children who enter the country illegally and alone, often holding them in harsh conditions without access to lawyers, rights group Amnesty International said. Some were jailed with criminals, strip-searched, shackled and physically abused, in violation of international accords and of a 1985 US court ruling that children in immigration custody must be treated with “dignity, respect and special concern for their vulnerability as minors,” Amnesty said in a report.
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