RM8.5BIL FOR PROJECTS: (July 7) The Government has announced the approval of RM8.5bil worth of high-priority projects for speedy implementation. The Prime Minister said the country’s improved economic performance had encouraged the continued implementation of these projects, which would benefit the people.
HOTSPOT PATROLS: (July 3) Neighbourhood patrol units will be set up in each of the 234 crime hotspots in the country by the year’s end in a move to get the people’s help to reduce the crime rate. The move follows the successful debut of similar patrols in Seberang Prai, Penang, where the crime rate has dropped by some 50% after the introduction of the neighbourhood patrols a year ago.
REPRIEVE FOR EMPLOYERS: (July 4) Employers have been given a reprieve to register their illegal workers pending a review of the intake of foreign workers. Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid said the grace period would last until the Government makes a decision. He said the Government wanted illegal workers, numbering about two million, to be registered with the Immigration Department and go through the process of being legalised.
UMNO POLLS START: (July 8) The Cheras Umno division in the Federal Territory and Batu Gajah in Perak held their general meetings, kicking off a two-week season of Umno division elections nationwide. While most top posts will not be challenged among the 191 Umno divisions across the country, some prominent leaders are in for some unexpected competition.
KU LI SEEKS TOP POST: (July 9) Tengku Razaleigb Hamzah has offered himself as a candidate for the Umno presidency in party elections in September on grounds that he wants democracy to flourish besides enabling him to continue his struggles for the party. Opening the delegates meeting of the Youth and Wanita movements of the Gua Musang Umno division in Gua Musang, the former Umno vice-president said it was now up to party members throughout the country whether to accept his offer and nominate him at their divisional delegates meetings.
COPS SCORE: (July 5) Police have busted two football betting syndicates – one in Miri and the other in Kuala Lumpur – that were taking bets of up to RM5mil per day on the recently completed Euro 2004 championship. The unrelated syndicates had international links and were taking bets from all over Asia, including Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and even China.
EARLY START FOR NS: (July 6) The second national service (NS) programme will begin in December and end next September in three separate batches to avoid overlapping training schedules. Besides overcoming logistical problems, the move aims to bring about more effective monitoring and resource deployment.
STEPS AGAINST CRIME: (July 6) Local authorities have been directed to implement four short-term measures to help check the crime rate. Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting told the authorities to clean up all unkempt places, remove all billboards on overhead pedestrian bridges, light up public areas, particularly the crime-prone ones, and separate pedestrian walkways from motorised traffic.
MORE SCHOOLS TO BENEFIT: (July 3) Instead of building more smart schools, the Government will upgrade existing schools into smart schools, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The smart school programme would be re-modelled and its implementation put on the fast track to enable more schools to benefit, he said. Under the new approach, the funds allocated for building smart schools would be used instead to equip existing schools with information and communication technology (ICT) facilities, he said.
NEW COPTERS: (July 5) The Malaysian armed forces will have more firepower when it takes delivery of 11 A109 light utility helicopters (LUH) equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the first of the Italian-made helicopters would be delivered in November next year. AgustaWestland, the world’s leading helicopter maker, has signed up with DRM-Hicom Bhd’s Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd (Deftech) to set up an assembly plant in Kepala Batas.
ANTIQUES RECOVERED: (July 3) A long keris was recovered from an estimated 400-year-old wrecked ship laden with Ming-era porcelain in waters off Kuala Dungun, Dungun. The wreck was discovered about five nautical miles off Kuala Dungun at a depth of 40m in June last year.
ForeignTEAR DOWN WALL: (July 9) The World Court said Israel's barrier in the West Bank should be torn down and called on the United Nations to stop a project it said had illegally imposed hardship on thousands of Palestinians. In a non-binding opinion hailed by Palestinians and rejected by Israel, the court said the barrier violated international humanitarian law and could presage the annexation of territory occupied by the Jewish state in the 1967 Middle East war.
CORNERSTONE LAID: (July 5) Almost three years after the Sept 11 attack on the World Trade Centre, the cornerstone was laid on July 4, US Independence Day, of the 541m Freedom Tower that will repair the gash in this city's skyline. The ground breaking ceremony at Ground Zero was heavy on symbolism and included a reading of excerpts from the US Declaration of Independence by the 13-year-old son of a Port Authority police officer killed on Sept 11.
BIRD FLU RETURNS: (July 7) Thailand suffered two new outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu, which killed eight people in the country earlier this year, said Thai Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob. Authorities had slaughtered more than 8,000 chickens on the farms and the outbreaks in the areas had been brought under control, Newin said.
GOLKAR THE KINGMAKER: (July 9) Ahead of a run-off vote for president on Sept 20, the political party that backed dictator Suharto until his fall in 1998 has emerged as a potential kingmaker in Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy. The two expected contenders in the vote, President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her former security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, are likely to woo the Golkar party, which dominated legislative elections in April.
MILITARY MUSCLES: (July 4) China is to carry out its largest military exercises of the year this month aimed at sending a “substantial warning” to Taiwan separatists, state media reported. The military drills will take place on Dongshan Island in Fujian province, just 150 nautical miles west of Taiwan's Penghu Island, the Beijing News said.
NOD TO MARTIAL LAW: (July 7) The Iraqi government announced a package of new security laws allowing the Prime Minister to announce martial law in chaotic areas in an effort to put down the insurgency wracking the country.
AUSSIES IN PACT: (July 8) The United States and one of its key Asia-Pacific allies, Australia, have agreed to develop a controversial missile defence shield to deter and protect against countries having access to ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Canberra also agreed to allow the United States to have a key military training centre in Australia following annual talks between their foreign and defence ministers in Washington.
INDICTED: (July 8) Former Enron Corp chairman Ken Lay, 62, was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 7 in connection with the fraud that led to the collapse of the giant energy firm. The indictment remained under seal.
ADB FUND SET UP: (July 5) The Asian Development Bank said it has formally established a trust fund to help countries in the region curb money-laundering and terrorist financing. Japan, Australia and the United States have initially put up money for the Co-operation Fund for Regional Trade and Financial Security Initiatives, the ADB said without giving any figures.
DREAM TICKET: (July 7) Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards appeared together on the campaign trail for the first time and declared themselves advocates for ordinary Americans squeezed by President George W. Bush's economic policies. In front of a huge banner proclaiming “Kerry and Edwards: A New Team for a New America,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told thousands of supporters that he and his newly minted running mate were America's “dream ticket.”
TAIWAN QUAKE: (July 6) An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale rocked Taiwan as the island struggled with the aftermath of massive floods that have claimed at least 23 lives. The quake struck with an epicentre some 49.7km northeast of Suao along the north-eastern coast. Its focus was 9.8km below sea level.
ANTI-TERROR SCHOOL: (July 3) Indonesia, hit by a spate of militant attacks in the past few years, opened a regional centre in Semarang that will train law enforcement officials to combat terrorists. The training centre – boasting a forensic laboratory, a Boeing 737-200 airplane and building facades – is set up inside the National Police Academy in the city.
MILITANTS SURRENDER: (July 8) More than 100 suspected Muslim militants turned themselves in to the Thai army ahead of a government deadline to surrender, officials said. So far 137 people had given themselves up since the army imposed a July 11 deadline for them to surrender or face a harsh crackdown, said army spokesman Col Arkhom Promkong.
NEW HERITAGE SITES: (July 3) The ongoing 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee has approved 34 out of the 48 sites nominated to be included in the World Heritage List, updating the total number of world heritage properties to 788. Andorra, North Korea, Iceland, Saint Lucia and Togo made their first appearance on the list as a result of the approval.
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