PAK LAH IS PM: (Nov 1) Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is sworn in as the country’s fifth Prime Minister before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara, ushering in a new chapter in Malaysian history. He succeeds Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (later made a Tun together with his wife Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali) who held the helm for 22 years.
LEGAL ACTION: (Oct 28) The Federal Government will take legal action against any state whose implementation of hudud contravenes Malaysian laws, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. He was commenting on Terengganu’s gazetting of the Syariah Criminal Law (Hudud dan Qisas) Enactment 2003. The enactment was passed by the state assembly on July 8 last year. Dr Mahathir said he did not regard what was passed by the state assembly as hudud.
NO BIG DEAL: (Oct 29) Malaysia brushed aside a US Senate decision to place restrictions on some American aid to show displeasure over remarks by Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Jews control the world by proxy. The senate unanimously agreed to condition US$1.2mil (RM4.56mil) in military training assistance to Malaysia on a determination by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that the country supports and promotes religious freedom, including for Jews.
GUNBATTLE: (Oct 29) A fierce 40-minute gunbattle at a Sulu Sea island in the Philippines appears to have ended the 22-day-old Borneo Paradise resort kidnap episode with five of the six hostages feared killed while one escaped. The shootout between police and some 60 gunmen reportedly occurred around 6.15pm on Monday at Languyan Island near Tawi Tawi, where a military search is going on for bodies and the gunmen.
ACTING BEYOND POWER: (Oct 30) The High Court in Kuala Lumpur has ruled that the Director-General of Trade Unions acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he decided to recognise one faction of the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) as the union’s lawful office-bearers. Justice Datuk Raus Sharif said the Director-General made the decision even though he was fully aware that the office-bearers of the union had been split into two factions and each group did not have the required quorum to convene an exco meeting.
SPECIAL NUMBERS: (Oct 26) The Road Transport Department (JPJ) will implement a system to record imported vehicles by special identification numbers to prevent illegal car trading and theft early next year. JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said the department was preparing the infrastructure for the procedure at ports which the Government had approved for vehicle imports. Emran said with the new system, imported cars without the special numbers could be identified as vehicles smuggled into the country with falsified documents.
FEES SET: (Oct 28) The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) has finalised the recommended fees for the common health tourism packages, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said. He said a sub-committee on fee packaging chaired by the APHM recently had finalised the recommended fees to ensure that tourists coming to Malaysia for medical reasons get value for their money.
UNITY CLUBS: (Oct 27) All Rukun Negara clubs in schools will be changed to unity clubs to better foster integration between races and inculcate the spirit of unity among the young, said National Unity and Social Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman. There were, she said, 1,500 Rukun Negara clubs in secondary schools nationwide currently.
BAGHDAD BLASTS: (Oct 28) Car bombers struck the International Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad, killing about 40 people in a spree of destruction which terrorised the city on the first day of Ramadan. The Red Cross said 12 were killed there and police said 27 were killed in the police station bombings, most of them Iraqis. The US military said one American soldier was killed in one of the police station attacks.
EMERGENCY DECLARED: (Oct 28) Firestorms roared through California after killing at least 13 people, forcing tens of thousands from their homes and disrupting air travel across North America, officials said. Governor Gray Davis on Sunday declared a state of emergency in four counties in the south of the most populous US state as a giant new blaze began invading the city of San Diego, forcing thousands more residents to flee.
POWER-SHARING BLUEPRINT: (Nov 1) Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels gave peace broker Norway their first ever blueprint for power-sharing aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed, a guerilla spokesman said. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said they gave the Norwegian ambassador Hans Brattskar a proposal to set up an “interim administration” for embattled regions.
TYCOON DETAINED: (Oct 26) A Moscow court ordered the arrest and detention of Russia’s richest man on fraud and tax evasion charges, after prosecutors hauled him in for interrogation from a Siberian airport, Interfax news agency said. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the 40-year-old boss of oil giant Yukos, was placed in detention after a five-hour hearing. Prosecutors filed seven criminal charges against the tycoon, including large-scale theft, tax evasion, falsifying documents and refusing to co-operate with law enforcement officials.
PUTIN SACKS CHIEF: (Nov 1) Russian business and political circles faced spiralling uncertainty after President Vladimir Putin tightened his grip on the Kremlin by relieving his chief of staff from duty and prosecutors ordered the freezing of a huge chunk of shares in oil giant Yukos. The late-night announcement on Thursday that Alexander Voloshin was departing came after days of rumours that he had tendered his resignation in the wake of the arrest and jailing of Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
WOLFOWITZ ESCAPES ATTACK: (Oct 27) Anti-American guerillas blasted the hotel where US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying in Baghdad with a barrage of rockets, but the number two Pentagon official survived unharmed, US officials said. The attack killed a US soldier but Wolfowitz vowed that the US would not abandon Iraq.
HOWARD TO STAND: (Oct 31) Veteran right-winger and former minister Michael Howard launched a long-awaited bid for the leadership of Britain’s flailing Conservative Party and pledged to head for the political centre ground to challenge Prime Minister Tony Blair. Having just ousted its ineffectual leader Iain Duncan Smith, the party of former greats Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill hopes to anoint Howard as a heavyweight who can restore the party’s former glory. Howard, 62, accepted the challenge as other senior Conservatives stood aside in his favour – an attempt to unite quickly after months of infighting.
POLICY ATTACKED: (Nov 1) The biggest alliance of US-based international aid groups called for a drastic overhaul of the Bush administration’s foreign assistance policy, which they said was incoherent, politicised and lacked co-ordination. InterAction, which represents 160 groups doing overseas relief work, was scathing in its criticism, particularly of the US government’s tendency to view foreign assistance “through a national security lens” since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
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