GOODWILL AT RISK (July 21): Malaysia has urged Singapore to put the quarrel over water behind them and work towards a fair price for the supply it gets. Singapore would be doing harm to its ties with Malaysia if the dispute were prolonged, the National Economic Action Council said. In a booklet entitled Water: The Singapore-Malaysia Dispute, The Facts released in response to Singapore’s booklet on the same issue, the council said the republic’s reluctance to pay a fair price for the water supply strained ties between the two countries.
FEE WAIVED (July 22): Entrepreneurs signing up for the micro-credit loan scheme need not pay service charges, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ng Yen Yen said. She said those taking up loans of up to RM20,000 from Bank Simpanan Nasional under the scheme only needed to have a mentor as a moral guarantor for their loans. Dr Ng said she was issuing the reminder after she was told those who wanted to borrow from a micro-credit scheme in Sabah were charged a consultancy fee of RM3,500 by middlemen to ensure they get the RM20,000 loan.
THREE-YEAR STINT (July 23): Newly registered pharmacists will have to undergo a three-year mandatory service in the public sector from early next year to overcome the shortage faced by public health institutions, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said. The Cabinet approved the ministry’s proposal several weeks ago to amend the Registration of Pharmacists Act 1951, which stated pharmacy graduates have to undergo a year’s internship at an institution recognised by the pharmacy board before they could register with the board and start practising.
N-DAY CARNIVAL MONTH (July 23): The month-long National Day celebrations is set to throw the whole country into a carnival and patriotic mood in what is billed as the biggest post-SARS event to boost tourism, said Deputy Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow. He said while the Ambang Merdeka (Threshold of Independence) festival would have programmes to instil patriotism, there would also be a string of activities to boost tourism.
MONORAIL STARTS (July 24): After several postponements, the monorail system in Kuala Lumpur will start operating on Aug 31. It will start commercial operations on its entire line from that day. The monorail has 11 stations in the city and is expected to run at five-minute intervals during peak hours and 10-minute intervals during non-peak hours.
ADOPTING e-PAYMENTS (July 24): With just a click, ratepayers can pay their dues to their local councils without queuing up at the counter when all 145 local authorities go online by 2005.
However, although they were expected to have their own websites by the end of this year, not all would be ready by then to provide the services. Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said 41 authorities would be able to carry out online transactions for collections, issuance of licences, tax collection, submission of applications and lodging of complaints by September.
PARENTS AT FAULT (July 24): One would expect parents to have their children’s welfare at heart and yet they made up over 55% of the child abusers reported in the last three years.
The profile of perpetrators showed that immediate family members (parents, step-parents, siblings and relatives) made up over 71% of child abusers from 2000 until last year. The National Unity and Social Development Ministry compiled the statistics based on six categories of abuse – abandonment, neglect, physical, sexual, emotional or psychological and others.
MONITORING MEDICAL ADS (July 26): Relevant ministries and agencies have been roped in to ensure unapproved medical advertisements involving services and products do not get publicised, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng. The ministries would vet the advertisements and take legal action against advertisers who did not get the approval of the Medicine Advertisement Board, he said. Chua added that the board had drawn up guidelines on what private hospitals, clinics, radiological clinics and medical laboratories could advertise.
TEST RUN (July 26): The third private television station – Channel Nine – will carry out test runs in the Klang Valley in early September. Operator Medanmas Sdn Bhd said viewers could tune in to the programmes on channel number 39 of the Ultra-High Frequency band. The channel will offer intelligent, innovative and interactive entertainment and target young, urban adults between the ages of 15 and 35.
ForeignDEMOCRACY VITAL (July 21): Beijing’s fresh public backing for Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa may cool political tensions for now but the government must take steps towards more democracy to win back public confidence, analysts and newspapers said. Chinese leaders threw Tung a political lifeline on July 19 when they voiced support for his administration after massive protests and demands for his resignation plunged Hong Kong into its biggest crisis in three years.
RELEASE SUU KYI (July 25): Foreign ministers from Europe and Asia ended talks in Nusa Dua, Bali on Thursday, demanding the release of Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. They said in a statement that Myanmar’s military junta should release the Nobel peace laureate and other members of the opposition National League for Democracy and ensure them political freedom.
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