Compiled by IVY SOON (Jan 3 - Jan 10)
NAJIB IS DPM (Jan 7): Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was appointed the new Deputy Prime Minister. He retains the Defence Ministry portfolio.
Najib, 51, has scored a string of “youngest” titles throughout his 27-year political career. He was elected as MP at the age of 23 in 1976, and became the youngest chief minister at 29. At the age of 32, he was made Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, again, the youngest Cabinet member back in those days.
As the eldest son of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the nephew of the third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn, Najib is often cited for his political blueblood origin.
CABINET CHANGES (Jan 7): Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been made Agriculture Minister replacing Datuk Seri Dr Effendi Norwawi, who is now minister with special functions in the Prime Minister's Department.
Finance Minister II Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis is appointed as Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, replacing Muhyiddin. Economic advisor to the Prime Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop is now the new Finance Minister II.
FIGHT CORRUPTION (Jan 9): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said political leaders should lead by example in combating corruption. He said it was sheer hypocrisy to tell government officials to behave when they did not uphold good work ethics.
GRADUATE TEACHERS (Jan 5): A new chapter in the nation’s education history has begun with more than 8,000 graduate teachers being posted to primary schools and government pre-schools in the new school term, which began on Sunday.
The move, besides marking a major policy change – only non-graduates taught in primary schools in the past, also allows teachers who obtained their degrees via distance learning to remain in primary schools and be upgraded to the graduate salary scale.
The aim is to have at least 50% graduate teachers in primary schools by 2010.
DISMAL REGISTRATION (Jan 3): With polls expected within the next few months, the Election Commission (EC) has admitted that its current method of registering voters at post offices is ineffective because the majority of eligible Malaysians have not done so as of Dec 31.
The previous method of door-to-door registration was more effective than voter registration at post offices, state EC offices and shopping malls.
BETTER TIES (Jan 8): Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to resolve the thorny issue over the recruitment of labour by signing a memorandum of understanding soon.
The proposed pact is to cover new terms and conditions with regards the recruitment of Indonesian workers for the plantation and construction sectors.
INDUCTION COURSE (Jan 9): All foreign workers, except for domestic maids, will soon be required to attend a compulsory induction course to learn about the national language, laws and culture of Malaysia.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said at least 700,000 existing foreign workers, including those in the construction and manufacturing sectors, would have to attend the two-week induction course.
For foreign workers wanting to work in Malaysia, they would have to attend the course in their respective countries prior to their employment here.
UNLIKELY REDUCTIONS (Jan 5): Prospective car buyers who expect a drop in prices following the announcement of new duties are likely to be disappointed, indicated car dealers.
Based on the new tariffs, most of the Malaysian Automotive Association members calculated that prices would not come down, but would be higher, said MAA president Aishah Ahmad.
However, the models affected and the quantum of increase would only be known after the dealers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of the cost structures.
JOINT PATROLS (Jan 6): Malaysia and Thailand have proposed to revive joint military patrols along their common border as part of overall efforts to beef up security following unrest in southern Thai provinces.
Thailand declared martial law in three southern provinces on Monday after a bomb blast killed two policemen following brazen attacks on Sunday.
Thailand sent its Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to seek Malaysia’s help to stamp out the surge in violence.
NO BIKES (Jan 8): The Government may turn certain parts of Kuala Lumpur into motorcycle-free zones to curb illegal racing and snatch thefts. Banning motorcycles from entering some parts of the city like Jalan Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang and Chow Kit areas would be imposed as a last resort if other efforts to curb those crimes failed.
MARKET RAZED (Jan 3): The pasar minggu (weekend market) site, a popular tourist draw for traditional Malay food, craft and clothes, in Kampung Baru here was destroyed in a fire.
The fire also razed at least 12 wooden stalls and made 150 people of a nearby squatter colony homeless. No casualties were reported in the fire. Work to redevelop a weekend market in Kampung Baru into a multimillion-ringgit cultural bazaar is set to commence soon.
MARS LANDING (Jan 3): US space craft carrying a robotic rover designed to search for signs of life landed safely on Mars. Nasa’s Spirit rover sent its first images of Mars to jubilant scientists here early Friday last week after surviving a jarring landing on the planet.
MARTIAL LAW (Jan 4): Thailand declared martial law in three southern provinces yesterday after a bomb blast killed two policemen following brazen attacks which authorities mostly blamed on bandits eager to protect lucrative weapons smuggling interests.
The blasts occurred a day after unidentified assailants set fire to 21 schools and raided a military armoury, killing four soldiers in Narathiwat.
SECOND SARS CASE (Jan 8): A waitress hospitalised in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was declared the country's second suspected SARS case of the season on Thursday, just as the first patient was pronounced recovered and released. Health authorities were investigating how the waitress might have contracted the virus.
TIES RESTORED (Jan 6): Iran and Egypt have agreed to restore diplomatic relations severed 25 years ago. Iran's vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi said this following the decision by the Teheran city council to rename a street that had honoured the assassin of Egypt's late president Anwar Sadat, thus removing a major obstacle to the restoration of ties between the two countries.
CHICKENS CULLED (Jan 8): Vietnam has identified as bird flu a disease that has wiped out hundreds of thousands of poultry, and the government had ordered a culling campaign just weeks before the country's biggest festival.
PLANE CRASH (Jan 3): An Egyptian Boeing 737 airliner carrying 135 mostly French tourists crashed into the Red Sea off the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday last week. There were no survivors.
INQUIRY BEGINS (Jan 7): Britain launched a top-level police investigation into the death of Princess Diana yesterday as a tabloid newspaper named her former husband Prince Charles as the person she suspected of plotting to kill her.