WORKING TOGETHER: (May 3) Malaysia has offered to share with Thailand its experience in dealing with threats from militants and extremists and despatch credible Islamic preachers to mosques in southern Thailand. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, however, stressed that Malaysia would only do these upon invitation and with Thailand's full knowledge.
BETTER SERVICES: (May 4) The Health Ministry, its agencies and government hospitals will be revamped to provide efficient and quality service to the people. Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the ministry’s funds would also be channelled towards providing quality treatment and better medicine and upgrading hospital equipment rather than building more hospitals.
LOCAL FIRST: (May 5) The country is bringing in more foreign workers than needed by industries and the Government wants to plug loopholes that cause the oversupply. Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said the Cabinet was also concerned over excess foreign labour because it undermined the “locals first” policy. He said while Malaysian industries needed one million foreign workers, the number of foreign workers registered with the ministry, excluding illegal ones, currently topped 1.2 million.
TRIAL BEGINS: (May 6) The trial of engineer Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman who is accused of murdering marketing executive Noritta Samsuddin began with the prosecution pledging to prove that it was a crime of passion. The murder had attracted much public attention because the condition in which the deceased's body was found had prompted much theory as to why and how she was killed.
REDEFINING POVERTY: (May 8) The Government is reviewing the 30-year-old yardstick used to define groups categorised as poor and hardcore poor, to reflect the current situation. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said a more realistic poverty line was needed to enable the Government to formulate effective policies and programmes to address problems associated with poverty.
CHILD FIRST: (May 1) Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek has warned all medical staff to be more vigilant in looking out for suspected child abuse victims and to treat them immediately. He said injured or sick children should be treated no matter who brought them in.
PRIVATE WING: (May 6) The Health Ministry is looking into the feasibility of setting up private wings in government hospitals to halt the brain drain of specialists and doctors. The Government proposed setting up the private wings, to be administered by the Health Ministry, to attract more specialists and enable serving doctors to enjoy better remuneration.
MASTER ENGLISH: (May 7) Malaysians must master English to compete in a globalised world, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. As a country, he said, Malaysia would stand a better chance of succeeding and safeguarding its interests if its people excelled in the language.
RENT AND OWN: (May 3) Public housing tenants may be allowed to convert their rentals into instalments to enable them to own the units, said Housing and Local Government Ministry Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting. He said the scheme, similar to hire purchase, would enable the poor to own houses without being burdened with high instalments and deposits.
NO CONTEST: (May 3) The Umno deputy president's post must be won uncontested in the upcoming party election to avoid a rift in the organisation, its former president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. He said the post was crucial for a smooth leadership transition in the party.
LEGAL ARMS: (May 5) The 2,850 light machine guns and sub-machine guns from Malaysia, seized by the Hong Kong Customs department, were bought from the Home Ministry and shipped legally. Lt-Kol (Rtd) Che Halim Che Husin, the managing director of Global Forecast Sdn Bhd, whose company bought the weapons from the Home Ministry’s acquisition division, said they had signed a contract with the ministry to purchase and offset the weapons in a barter trade deal.
LIGHTNING DISASTER: (May 2) Two people were killed and 22 others injured when lightning struck a group of 31 campers atop the 1,683m Gunung Rajah, Bentong on Sunday night. The dead were factory worker and team leader Mohd Nazim Ibrahim, 35, from Kepala Batas, Penang, and student Ahmad Shah Jaffar, 23, from Mempaga 3 in Bentong.
EXTRA INCOME: (May 5) The Selangor government is starting a work-from-home scheme and offering free child-minding courses in the middle of this month under a pilot project to help the urban poor. The child-minding courses were to train housewives and provide them with proper knowledge so that they could help mind their neighbours’ children.
STAY UNITED: (May 2) Muslims have no choice but to unite and pool their resources to ensure a secure and bright future, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail said. The King said that Prophet Muhammad had succeeded in uniting the Arabs, who were then divided, through Islam by instilling a strong faith in them.
FEE INCREASE: (May 2) Schoolbus operators are asking for a 20% increase in bus fares due to rising fuel prices and other costs. Federation of Malaysian Schoolbus Associations president Chee Ah Tey said it would propose a revision of the schoolbus fares to the Transport Ministry and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board after talking to members.
ABOUT TURN: (May 6) The ban on controversial Malay songs that have English words has been lifted, said Information Minister Datuk Paduka Kadir Sheikh Fadzir. Kadir said the problem of the so-called ban did not arise anymore and airing Malay songs containing English words was no more a major issue with the Information Ministry.
TACKLING TRAFFIC: (May 4) The Works Ministry is working on a master plan to alleviate traffic congestion on major roads, especially during festive seasons. Its minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said that the proposals include the expansion of certain stretches of the North-South Expressway and federal roads.
US APOLOGISES: (May 7) President George W. Bush has said he is “sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners” in US custody, a day after he was criticised for failing to apologise during interviews with two Arab TV channels on the abuse scandal. Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also extended his “deepest apology'' on Friday to Iraqis brutally abused in US military prisons and said he favoured compensating them for their suffering.
BARBARIC ACTS: (May 1) Images of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated by smiling US military police, carried in newspapers around the region, outraged Arabs. Six US soldiers facing courts-martial in connection with abuse allegations have been reassigned in Iraq. Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and at least seven others have been suspended from their duties at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
VIOLENT RESURGENCE: (May 7) Violence gripped southern Thailand again yesterday with the killings of a policeman and a village deputy as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited the region in the wake of last week's deadly clashes. The killings marked a resurgence in attacks on Thai security forces and government officials.
GOLKAR VICTORY: (May 5) Final results confirmed that the Golkar Party of former dictator Suharto has become the biggest party in parliament, winning 21.6% of the vote in legislative elections. As expected, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle came in second in the April 5 ballot, garnering 18.5%, according to final data released.
BIGGER EU: (May 1) The EU's biggest expansion came into effect at midnight on Friday, increasing the bloc's membership from 15 to 25 members, its population by 75 million, and its territory by 25%. The ten new members are Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Cyprus and Malta.