POLLS ON: (March 6) Malaysians will go to the polls on March 21, the Election Commission has announced. Com-
mission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said that March 13 would be nomination day for candidates contesting for the 219 parliamentary and 505 state seats.
This means the campaigning period would be only eight days, the shortest in the history of Malaysian elections. A total of 10.3 million people are eligible to vote.
PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED: (March 4) Parliament was dissolved to pave the way for the 11th general election. Except for Sarawak, all state assemblies were also dissolved.
Sarawak's state seats would not be contested as the state elections were last held in 2001, and the term of the state government would only expire in 2006.
FINAL LIST: (March 5) Barisan Nasional has finalised the allocation of seats among its 13 component parties and the speed with which this was done is testimony of the coalition’s true spirit of power-sharing, declared its chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said the goodwill and understanding among the party leaders boded well for the future of the coalition.
OPPOSITION READY: (March 3) The country’s main opposition parties said they were ready for the polls, albeit last-minute discussions on how to take on Barisan Nasional in straight fights in possibly all seats at stake.
PAS would largely go into Malay-majority areas while its ally Parti Keadilan Nasional would tackle mostly the non-Malay-majority seats. At the same time, Keadilan was also working out details with DAP to avoid any overlapping that would benefit Barisan. PAS and the DAP are not talking to each other because of differences over its Islamic state plan.
TRAINS COLLIDE: (March 3) A southbound commuter train rammed into a stationary commuter train on Tuesday evening, injuring 42 people, seven of them seriously.
Thousands of passengers, on the evening rush home here, were stranded following the 6.15pm collision. The collision affected inter-city train services heading to Singapore and the east coast.
COPTER CRASH: (March 5) An RMAF Nuri helicopter crash-landed in the back lane of some houses in Taman Udara, Permatang Tengah, killing the co-pilot and flight sergeant and injuring the pilot yesterday.
It went down at 7.30am, about 20 minutes after it had taken off for a routine flight from the RMAF base here. The dead have been identified as co-pilot Capt Dicky Rishi Chin, 27, from Johor Baru and Flight Sgt Zailani Ab Kadir, 37, from Pasir Puteh, Kelantan.
ACTION TAKEN: (Feb 28) The Kuala Langat OCPD and 28 of his men have been transferred after police completed investigations into a complaint of a casino operating within its vicinity.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mohd Sedek Ali said another district police headquarters was being investigated following a recent vice raid, in which 46 foreign women were arrested in Bandar Puchong Jaya.
DOUBLY WELL: (Feb 28) The number of top scorers in last year’s Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) is more than double the figure for 2002.
A total of 1,152 candidates obtained A1s in all subjects and 6,358 candidates obtained a combination of A1s and A2s, compared with 663 and 2,732 respectively for the previous year. Out of the 420,220 candidates who sat for the examination last year, 91.2% qualify for a certificate, compared with 90.6% in 2002.
HEAVY SENTENCE: (March 4) A construction worker was jailed 54 years and ordered to be given 24 strokes of the rotan by the Sessions Court here after he admitted to three counts of raping his 17-year-old daughter at their home over the past six years.
The man, who has two wives and nine children including the victim, pleaded guilty to raping his daughter at his house between January 1998 and January last year.
TOLL ENDS: (March 1) The Senai toll plaza in Johor closed at the stroke of midnight yesterday to the applause of 5,000 locals who gathered to welcome the move.
The concession for the Senai-Johor Baru stretch was supposed to end only in 2030 but the Government decided to stop the toll collection prematurely after much protest from the people.
NEW SCOOTER: (March 1) National motorcycle maker Modenas has released Modenas Elegan – a scooter ready to give its competitors a run for their money.
The 150cc Elegan, the manufacturer's seventh model, is poised to sell between 6,000 and 8,000 units by the end of the year.
ForeignBLOODIEST DAY: (March 2) Simultaneous explosions ripped through crowds of worshippers yesterday at Shi’ite Muslim shrines in Baghdad and Karbala on the holiest day of the Shi’ite calendar, and a US official said at least 143 people were killed.
The blasts, using a combination of suicide bombers and planted explosives, came during the Shi’ite festival of Ashoura. Iraqi police and US troops detained 15 people, including several possible Iranians, in the devastating suicide attacks against Shi'ite pilgrims.
SUPER TUESDAY: (March 3) Senator John Kerry wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, chasing his sole major rival from the race and challenging George W. Bush to “bring it on” for the November election.
The Massachusetts lawmaker forced Senate colleague John Edwards to abandon his bid for the nomination by taking nine of 10 party contests held from coast to coast on “Super Tuesday.”
AVIAN FLU: (March 4) A 120-strong Japanese army task force has been called in to help disinfect the area hit by the nation's third outbreak of bird flu.
Japanese authorities confirmed the nation's third bird flu outbreak since 1925 at a large poultry farm in Tanba in Kyoto prefecture, 400km southwest of Tokyo. The latest outbreak was allowed to spread through the continued shipment of live poultry and chicken meat because of a delay in its reporting by the owner of the affected farm.
ARISTIDE LEAVES: (March 1) President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected president in 200 years of independence, left as fighters in a popular rebellion that erupted three weeks ago came within 40km of Port-au-Prince, the capital, and threatened to attack unless he resigned.
France, Haiti's former coloniser, and the United States, which sent troops to restore Aristide after a coup in 1994, had called for him to resign for the good of his Caribbean nation of eight million people.
TERROR SUSPECT: (March 5) Indonesian police have accused a detained Malaysian terrorist suspect of involvement in last August's deadly bombing of J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta as well as a spate of church blasts in Indonesia three years ago.
Commissioner General Erwin Mappaseng, chief of the detective division at national police headquarters said Amran Mansyur @ Andi Saputra, had provided explosives in the series of terrorist bombings.
LORD OF THE OSCARS: (March 1) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the conclusion to the fantasy trilogy based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien and directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, won all 11 awards for which it was nominated.
The sweep by the movie at the 76th annual Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood rivalled the record set by Titanic in 1997 and 1959's Ben Hur, which also scored 11 Oscars apiece.
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