FOOD PRICE RISE: (April 25) Prices of many essential foodstuff have gone up gradually over the last few months, causing concern among consumers that the cost of living may shoot up if the authorities do not act to stop the trend. The increase in the price of foodstuff is of great concern because it makes up 33.8% of the consumer price index, according to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.
ACTION ON PRICES: (April 26) The Cabinet, concerned about reports of rising prices of several food items, directed the relevant authorities to monitor the situation closely. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie warned that his enforcement officers would carry out spot checks and routine monitoring of price tags on food items.
NO CHEATING HOUSE BUYERS: (April 26) Developers are advised against duping house buyers into signing the sale and purchase agreement before ensuring that full preparations to complete the housing project are made, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said.
SECURITY GUARDS TRAINING: (April 26) All security guards and in-house detectives will from next year have to undergo training provided by the Internal Security Ministry if they wish to remain employed. Security firms that fail to get their staff trained will not have their licences renewed. Deputy Minister Datuk Noh Omar said those who had undergone the training would be issued certificates and authorisation cards by the ministry.
SCHOOL OF CHOICE: (April 27) The Government wants to make national schools “the school of choice” under a two-pronged strategy to promote racial integration and improve the quality of education. The other part of the strategy is to develop universities and colleges into world-class institutions, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
AVOID SOUTHERN THAILAND: (April 28) Malaysians have been advised against travelling to southern Thailand following the clashes there. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the Malaysian Government could not guarantee the safety of its citizens should any of them visit troubled areas like Yala, Songkhla and Pattani.
SHELTER FOR THAIS: (April 30) Malaysia is prepared to set up temporary shelters for Thai citizens seeking refuge following Wednesday's bloody clashes between Thai security forces and insurgents in southern Thailand. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the police had been asked to identify suitable spots to cater to any possible influx of terrified people crossing the border to seek shelter.
FOUR PRIORITIES: (April 28) In his bid to “educate Malaysia,” Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has identified four key areas to focus on – teachers, rural schools, national schools and education for the new economy. He said the teaching profession needed to be returned to the esteemed position it once enjoyed.
PROMOTING INNOVATION: (April 29) More funds, strengthening the “brain gain” programme and updating intellectual property policies are among steps that will be taken to boost innovation in science and technology, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Abdullah will chair a soon-to-be formed National Innovation Council to look into rationalising and strengthening the national innovation system across all technology areas.
PIONEERS PART: (April 30) During the first week at national service camps, many felt like crying because they were apprehensive of what was in store and missed home. On Friday, at the end of their three-month stint, many were teary-eyed because they were sad to part with their newfound friends.
ANOTHER CAVE-IN: (April 29) Thousands of steel rods crashed down on some 40 workers at an Ayer Rajah construction site in Singapore, killing two and injuring 29. The workers were fixing steel supports for the foundation of a six-storey basement for a high-tech township when part of the framework collapsed in the afternoon.
THAI CLASHES: (April 28) Troops and police killed more than 100 gun- and machete-wielding Muslim youths, including more than 30 in a three-hour shootout at a mosque in Pattani, on a day of carnage in Thailand's restive south. Many of those involved in the assaults were wearing black or dark green uniforms with bright red headbands.
EU BIG BANG: (April 30) After years of arduous preparation, the European Union welcomed 10 mainly former communist states into the fold at the stroke of midnight on May 1. The accession of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia will swell the bloc's ranks to 25 nations.
CHINESE AID: (April 25) Food, tents and other emergency aid from China arrived in North Korea to help it recover from a devastating train explosion that killed more than 160 people and left thousands homeless. Aid workers who were the first outsiders to reach the disaster site recounted seeing huge craters, twisted rail racks and scorched buildings following last Thursday's massive explosion in Ryongchon.
OUT OF EU: (April 25) A British “No” vote in a planned referendum on the European Union constitution would be tantamount to a vote to leave the bloc, one of Britain's two European Commissioners said. External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten told the Observer newspaper a “No” vote in the referendum Prime Minister Tony Blair promised last week would drive Britain out.
LARGEST PROTEST: (April 25) Hundreds of thousands of women and a smattering of men from across the United States and dozens of other countries marched on Sunday in the largest women's rights protest in more than a decade, seeking to influence US policy on abortion ahead of the Nov 2 presidential election.
ESTEE LAUDER DIES: (April 25) Beauty products pioneer Estee Lauder, who built a multi-million-dollar cosmetics empire over a few decades, died at 97, The New York Times reported on Sunday. Her son, Leonard Lauder, chairman of the Estee Lauder Companies Inc, told the newspaper his mother died of cardiopulmonary arrest.
ELECTION FOCUS: (April 26) US President George W. Bush and his Democratic rival, John Kerry, were expected to shift the focus of their electoral contest to the battered US economy, testing new ideas on ways to add muscle to a fledgling recovery.
MBEKI SWORN IN: (April 27) President Thabo Mbeki was sworn in for a second term as South Africa celebrated its first decade of multi-racial rule with a military air display and a massive open-air concert. Mbeki pledged faithfulness to the republic and obedience to the constitution before a crowd of tens of thousands, including presidents and monarchs.