PM'S LOSS: (Feb 2) Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s mother Datuk Kailan Hassan passed away after complaining of chest pains. Kailan, 78, left behind four children – Abdullah, Datuk Ibrahim, Aminah and Mohd Tahir, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She was buried next to her father-in-law’s grave in Kelapa Batas on Wednesday.
SCOMI PROBE: (Feb 5) Police are probing allegations that a Malaysian firm had manufactured components for the making of centrifuges used in the production of nuclear weapons in Libya. Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar said that initial investigations into the alleged manufacturing and shipment to Libya so far revealed that the firm Scomi, which is controlled by the Prime Minister’s son, did not posses the technology or the expertise to build a centrifuge.
NEW MODEL: (Feb 6) Proton launched its latest model, the Proton Gen.2, in what it said would be the start of a “new and changing face” for the national car. The sleek five-door aeroback was completely designed and built in Malaysia and is an absolute break from the carmaker’s previous designs. The car, which costs RM52,888, is also the first to be fitted with the Malaysian-designed Campro engine.
APPLY ONLINE: (Feb 3) Approval for foreign workers in all sectors will only take two weeks once the Immigration Department fully implements the online application system soon. Under the Immigration Department Electronic Application System, employers can sign up and be linked to the department for easy and hassle-free applications. With this, individual employers and representatives of agencies need not travel to the various departments to submit their applications, hence cutting costs, saving time and preventing loss of documents.
COMMISION HEAD: (Feb 4) Former chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah was appointed chairman of a 16-member Royal Commission set up to find ways to turn the Royal Malaysia Police into a credible peacekeeping and law enforcement force.
SUMMONS LIST: (Feb 5) The names of traffic offenders whose summonses could not be sent to them because of incomplete addresses or other inaccurate information will be published in newspapers. The advertisements, which will also contain the nature of the offence, will be taken out by the proposed Traffic Tribunal that the Government is to set up to handle the mounting amount of compoundable traffic offences. There are 1.4 million summonses that could not be sent to traffic offenders because of incomplete addresses or other inaccurate information.
HIGHWAY REMEDY: (Feb 4) The company which constructed the RM282mil highway from Pos Slim to Kampung Raja in Cameron Highlands will most likely be given an extension to remedy parts of the highway found to be too steep and prone to landslides. The Public Works Department refused to issue a safety certification for the road after inspection revealed that 3km of the 36km highway, from the 22.5th to the 25.5th kilometre, was too steep and prone to landslides.
STRAIGHT LINK: (Feb 1) Malaysia will present a new proposal to Singapore on the construction of a bridge to replace the Causeway, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said. Malaysia, he said, was still interested in building a straight bridge, instead of the “crooked” one that had been planned.
MORE INCOME: (Feb 5) Agriculture-based downstream activities are set to receive a new emphasis as the Government wants to see rural folk enjoying additional or new forms of income. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he would direct all mentris besar and chief ministers to personally lead task forces at state level to identify products that could benefit rural folk in their respective states.
THAIPUSAM DEVOTION: (Feb 5) More than a million people swarmed Batu Caves and numerous other Hindu temples nationwide to do penance and seek blessings from Lord Muruga during Thaipusam on Thursday. This year's celebration took on an added flavour from the Chinese almanac, which celebrates 2004 as the Year of the Monkey, with the appearance of Lord Hanuman, the monkey deity.
18 DEAD: (Feb 6) The human toll in Asia's bird flu outbreak rose to 18 following another death in Vietnam, where 13 have died. Thailand has lost five human lives. Ten countries are battling the bird flu, culling 50 million chickens and other fowls. Experts are warning that it is possible for the virus to jump to people through another mammal, such as pigs. An unnamed UN official has been quoted as saying that preliminary tests indicated pigs might have the bird flu virus.
NUCLEAR LINK: (Feb 4) The architect of Pakistan's nuclear programme asked the nation to “pardon him” for his unauthorised transfer of nuclear technology to other countries. Abdul Qadeer Khan said he accepted full responsibility for leaks of Pakistan's nuclear know-how to Iran, Libya and North Korea, and sought a pardon for his role. President Pervez Musharraf has pardoned the scientist, who is a national hero in Pakistan.
HAJ STAMPEDE: (Feb 1) 251 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death on Sunday at the climax of the haj as hundreds of thousands of faithful in Mena surged to stone pillars representing the devil, a ritual that has in the past witnessed similar incidents. Saudi Arabia, defending its organisation of this year's haj, said a deadly stampede may have been avoided if pilgrims had behaved calmly and not trampled over each other to perform rituals.
WMD PROBE: (Feb 2) President George W. Bush said he would appoint an independent commission to investigate discrepancies in intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq, reversing earlier opposition to a probe. Bush had come under strong pressure from Republicans and Democrats in Congress to support an independent probe into intelligence that said Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons when in fact none have been found.
MOSCOW BLAST: (Feb 6) A subway car exploded in aMoscow metro, killing at least 39 people and wounding more than 100 others. It appears to be the deadliest terrorist attack in Moscow since Russia launched its second war in Chechnya.
SEEKING RE-ELECTION: (Feb 4) Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian formally submitted his bid for re-election, urging voters to support a controversial referendum that bitter rival China has warned could lead to war.
PAPUA QUAKE: (Feb 6) A series of powerful earthquakes measuring up to 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Indonesia's remote Papua province on Friday, killing eight people and injuring at least 65 as well as destroying hundreds of houses.
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