LEAVE IRAQ TO UN (Oct 12): The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has called for the eviction of foreign forces from Iraq and allow the United Nations to run Baghdad's affairs. This would be the prelude to the restoration of the country’s independence and rebuilding of what has been destroyed over the past 20 years – all in accordance with a clear and short timetable, said OIC Secretary-General Dr Abdelouahed Belkeziz.
SHOW OF UNITY (Oct 16): More than 30 leaders arrived to attend the 10th Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit - making it the largest ever gathering of Muslim leaders in the movement’s history. Except for Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s President Muammar Ghaddafi and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, almost every king, sultan, president and prime minister of prominent Muslim countries were present.
12-POINT ACTION PLAN (Oct 18): Leaders of the 10th Organisation of Islamic Conference Summit adopted a 12-point action plan under the Putrajaya Declaration listing out ways to make the body more credible. Highlights of the document focused on methods to improve trade between member states, and increasing their grasp of science and technology subjects. Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar read the declaration out at the closing ceremony of the summit Friday night.
BIENNIAL MAID LEVY (Oct 12): Some 200,000 employers in the country will feel relieved over a Government’s decision to allow the renewal of the RM445-a-year levy for foreign maids to be done every two years instead of annually. Home Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Aseh Che Mat said the medical records of the foreign workers must still be submitted yearly.
ASTRO SETS SHARE PRICE (Oct 13): Astro All Asia Networks plc has attracted a huge global demand for its institutional offering with values close to RM30bil although the company would only issue 425 million shares worth RM1.72bil. Out of the 425 million shares offered, 325 million will be sold to foreign funds and 100 million to domestic funds. In a statement, Astro said it has fixed the final pricing of RM3.65 a share for its retail portion and RM4.06 for its institutional offering.
HUDUD LAWS TO BE ENFORCED (Oct 16): The Terengganu Syariah Criminal Offence Enactment (Hudud and Qisas) will be gazetted on Oct 27 and the laws enforced on the same day, which also coincides with the start of Ramadan. Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said those who feel the laws were ultra vires the Federal Constitution could bring the matter to court.
PROPOSED LAW (Oct 15): A proposed law to ban direct-selling companies from conducting door-to-door peddling of medicinal products is being formulated to protect consumers. Health Ministry Pharmaceutical Division director Datuk Che Mohd Zin Che Awang said the proposed legislation, called New Pharmacy Act, would stop the direct selling of products like traditional medicine and health supplements for effective monitoring and consumer protection. He said the Act would consolidate several existing ones to eliminate overlapping regulations.
SHORTER FESTIVAL HOLIDAYS (Oct 14): There will no longer be a one-week break for festive seasons in the 2004 school year as practised for the past 10 years although schools can still apply to have additional holidays. The school year will be divided into 50-day blocks with a two-and-a-half week mid-term break instead of the current one week.
SEARCH FOR COSMONAUT (Oct 14): The search for the first Malaysian cosmonaut is now officially on and individuals from all walks of life can apply as long as they are 21 years old and above, of sound health, vision and aptitude to undergo 18 months of training in Russia. There is no cut-off age limit and both men and women can apply before the committee shortlists two candidates – a reserve cosmonaut and the one who would eventually spend six days at the International Space Station (ISS).
GOVT TO SPEND RM400MIL (Oct 12): The Government is spending RM400mil to kick off the national service programme involving 86,000 youths starting February next year. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said 28,000 youths would be in the first batch of the programme and would undergo a month of physical and military training at 46 army camps. This would be followed by two months of community and national programmes and awareness building at hostels of public institutions of higher learning.
SENTENCED (Oct 17): Tenaganita Sdn Bhd director Irene Fernandez was sentenced to 12 months' jail after a magistrate's court found her guilty for maliciously publishing false news about eight years ago. However, magistrate Juliana Mohamad allowed Fernandez a stay of execution after defence counsel Edmund Bon gave an undertaking that an appeal would be filed.
FOREIGNBAGHDAD BLAST (Oct 13): A suicide car bomber killed at least six Iraqis in an attack on a Baghdad hotel used by US officials, shaking buildings blocks away with the force of the blast, the US military said. Eyewitnesses said they saw a car crash through the security barrier at the Baghdad Hotel and explode.
LEAP INTO SPACE (Oct 16): China fired its first astronaut into orbit without any visible hitches, becoming only the third nation capable of manned space flight. The rocket carrying Lt Col Yang Liwei (above), a 38-year-old fighter pilot turned astronaut, streaked into a clear blue sky at precisely 9am from a Gobi Desert launch pad in China's remote north-west. The government said the Shenzhou V space capsule entered orbit 10 minutes later.
GRUDGING SUPPORT (Oct 17): The UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution on post war Iraq, a victory for the United States, which sought approval for its occupation of the country. Until hours before the vote, the support of key council members, Russia, Germany and France was in doubt. All had opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq. Syria, the last holdout and the only Arab member of the council, then also came on board for a 15-0 vote on the resolution.
FOUR ARRESTED IN TIKRIT (Oct 12): US troops hunting Iraqi guerillas raided houses in Saddam Hussein's hometown, arresting four men including two of whom officers said were former members of the fugitive dictator's security force. Lt Col Steve Russell, who led the raid, said those detained were suspected of involvement in attacks on US forces and included two men with links to the Special Security Office, one of Saddam's security units.
MUBAROK GETS LIFE (Oct 17): An Afghanistan-trained Indonesian militant was jailed for life for his part in the Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people last year. Judges said Mubarok, alias Hutomo Pamungkas, was guilty of a “crime against humanity” for his role in the attack on Western holidaymakers on Oct 12 last year.
SYRIA SANCTION (Oct 17): The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 398-4 to sanction Syria for its alleged ties to terrorist groups and purported efforts to obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The legislation, the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act, also calls on Damascus to end its occupation of Lebanon.
ROH REJECTS MOVE (Oct 12): South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said he had rejected the resignations Prime Minister Goh Kun and his Cabinet had tendered earlier in the day. Roh indicated he would step down if he failed to win a vote of confidence he proposed on Friday as a way for his embattled government to put behind recent corruption allegations and start anew with a fresh public mandate. Earlier, he had proposed holding a referendum in mid-December on his rule and vowed to step down and trigger a fresh presidential election if the confidence vote went against him.
NEW TALLEST SKYSCRAPER (Oct 18): The Taipei 101 office block attained its full height of 508m, unseating Petronas Twin Towers as the world's tallest building. At a ceremony witnessed by officials and business leaders, a 60m spire capped the 101-storey structure, officially making it taller than the 452m Petronas Twin Towers.
LIBERIA'S NEW PRESIDENT (Oct 15): Businessman Gyude Bryant was sworn in as Liberia's new interim leader with the task of steering the war-torn West African country to elections in 2005. The new president in turn swore in his vice-president, Wesley Johnson.
OP SUCCESSFUL (Oct 14): Two-year-old Egyptian twins joined at the top of their heads were successfully separated in Dallas, but face a long recovery after the marathon surgery that lasted 26 hours and took more than a year of planning. Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim had an intricate connection of blood vessels but separate brains.