The Week That Was (Dec 14-Dec 20) compiled by Shantini Suntharajah.
PEOPLE’S MONEY: (Dec 18) On Wednesday, the Cabinet rejected EPF’s proposal to disallow contributors to withdraw their savings in a lump sum upon reaching 55. On Dec 14, contributors to the EPF said it should be left to them to decide how they wanted to withdraw their savings. Unionists, social activists and politicians backed contributors who expressed their dismay and surprise over the EPF proposal. The EPF Board said its review of withdrawal options was not due to funding constraints as it enjoyed a healthy asset growth of RM20bil a year.
NO FIXED PREMIUM: (Dec 20) Insurance premiums for critical illnesses will no longer be fixed for the period a person signs up for. Premiums may be increased annually if the companies’ claims record is adverse for the year under this category.
GROUNDS TO DEFER: (Dec 16) Three major groups of trainees may defer enrolment into national service if the Government accepts a proposal by the programme’s council. The recommended categories of deferment are all related to education. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced six broad guidelines to be used as basis for deferment on Friday.
HOUSEBUYER’S CHEER: (Dec 19) Housebuyers who bought their units before Dec 1 last year can once again go to the Homebuyers Claims Tribunal to settle any dispute they have with developers following a Court of Appeal decision on Thursday.
MyKad PASSPORT: (Dec 17) MyKad, the multi-purpose identity card, is likely to be used as a valid travel document for Malaysians travelling to Singapore. Starting next month, MyKad will be able to be used for travel to Brunei. The Government will also consider allowing MyKad owners from Peninsular Malaysia to use the document when travelling to Sabah and Sarawak.
BETTER SERVICE: (Dec 19) Grouchy Immigration officers manning frontline sections will be relegated to other units in a move to instil the “service with a smile” culture at the department’s offices nationwide.
PROJECT OFF: (Dec 18) The Cabinet has decided to postpone the implementation of the double-tracking electrification rail project because of the need to prioritise the country’s many development projects.
NEW IMPORT DUTIES: (Dec 17) New duties on imported cars will be unveiled at the end of the month.
TRAFFIC FLOW: (Dec 18) The New Pantai Expressway is expected to ease traffic congestion following the closure of the stretch of the New Klang Valley Expressway affected by a rockfall.
7 TO 9 RULING: (Dec 20) Bus operators say that the move requiring express buses to end their service at 9pm during the Chinese New Year may result in a shortage.
BATIK DAY: (Dec 16) The Entrepreneur Development Ministry and Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry have made it compulsory for their staff to wear batik to work on Saturday to promote the craft.
SADDAM NABBED: (Dec 15) Saddam Hussein, grubby, bearded and burying himself in a cellar floor in an attempt to hide from US troops, was captured alive on Sunday in his hometown of Tikrit. Soldiers shaved off the beard and took samples from the ousted dictator for DNA identity tests. He refused to give the US military any intelligence information.
BOMB BLAST: (Dec 18) A fuel truck bomb killed 17 people in a huge fireball in Baghdad on Wednesday as violence gripped Iraq in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s capture. On Dec 14, a suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives in a car outside a police station in Iraq, killing at least 17 people and wounding 33 more.
JACKSON CHARGED: (Dec 20) Superstar Michael Jackson was charged on Thursday with sexually molesting a child after plying the youth with alcohol, allegations that could land him a hefty prison sentence.
CONTRACT QUERY: (Dec 14) President George W. Bush, trying to calm a political storm, said that Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former company should repay the government if it overcharged for petrol delivered in Iraq under a controversial pre-war contract.
TESTED POSITIVE: (Dec 18) A medical researcher has tested positive for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the first case in Taiwan since earlier this year.The Health Ministry of Singapore ordered 70 people who may have come into contact with the Taiwanese SARS patient to be quarantined.
EU CRISIS: (Dec 14) The European Union’s two-year-long drive to forge a new constitution collapsed on Saturday, leaving the 15-nation bloc facing a crisis as it prepares to launch its biggest expansion ever.
PUTIN TO RUN: (Dec 19) Russian President Vladimir Putin went on national television yesterday to confirm widespread expectations that he will run for a second term in presidential elections in March 2004.
BID FOR PEACE: (Dec 19) Pakistan offered to drop a 50-year-old demand for a UN-mandated plebiscite over divided Kashmir and meet India “halfway” in a bid for peace on the subcontinent.
OP FOR POWELL: (Dec 16) US Secretary of State Colin Powell underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Tuesday and was expected to spend several days in hospital. Powell’s surgery may revive speculation on how long he may serve as secretary of state.
Did you find this article insightful?