ROBUST GROWTH: (Aug 25) Malaysia's economy surged by 8% in the second quarter of this year, beating all expectations, and prompting Bank Negara to say that growth for 2004 is expected to exceed the earlier target of 6% to 6.5%. Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said growth was driven by private sector demand and buoyant external demand.
DEATH PENALTY: (Aug 27) The High Court in Johor Baru imposed the death sentence on security guard Mohd Abbas Danus Baksan for murdering 10-year-old Nurul Huda Gani. Nurul Hudas brutal rape and murder sparked public outrage and prompted various parties, including the Government, to launch campaigns against vicious crime.
WOMEN POWER: (Aug 25) The Government wants 30% of the people involved in decision-making in the public sector to be women. This target, however, did not apply to government-linked companies and the private sector. The Prime Minister said that the positions would be filled by women with the required qualifications.
TAKE ACTION: (Aug 21) The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has ordered the state government to take steps to protect the world-renowned firefly colony in Kuala Selangor. All other natural resources in the state like forest reserves, wetlands and green lungs should also be given such protection, he said.
ON THE GROUND: (Aug 26) All Selangor state executive councillors and department heads have been ordered to spend three days in Kampung Kuantan, Selangor, to help find a solution to save the firefly colony there. As an immediate measure, the state government would be planting more berembang trees along the 10km stretch of the riverbank.
CLOSE WATCH: (Aug 22) The Veterinary Services Department will carry out a campaign to educate villagers living in areas bordering Thailand against bringing in any birds be it as food or pets from across the border. Surveillance on the movement of people and animals near the border has also been stepped up. The move came following a confirmed bird flu case in Kampung Pasir Pekan, Kelantan, last week.
UNDER CONTROL: (Aug 27) The Government will declare Malaysia free from bird flu when the 21-day quarantine period in Kampung Baru, Pasir Pekan in Tumpat ends on Sept 9. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said even though there was no latest development in the area, the Veterinary Services Department was monitoring the situation closely. The situation in Kelantan is under control.
MARITAL RAPE: (Aug 22) The Joint Action Group Against Violence Against Women has submitted a memorandum to the Government asking for an amendment to the Penal Code to define marital rape as an offence. Every year, more than 70 wives complain that their husbands have raped them but the authorities can do nothing because marital rape is not a crime in Malaysia, and many go unreported.
MONEY POLITICS: (Aug 27) Umnos graft busters have uncovered a group offering to deliver 80 votes for candidates at the partys general assembly next month for RM50,000. Party executive secretary Brig-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Paduka Husainay Hashim, however, refused to elaborate if the so-called consortium involved ministers, senior party leaders or ordinary delegates.
COME HOME: (Aug 22) Professionals who have given up their Malaysian citizenship to live abroad but wish to contribute their expertise to the country are welcome to do so through the Malaysia My Second Home programme. Applications from these professionals, who still have relatives here, will be considered as long as they have a clean record.
CLOSER TIES: (Aug 23) Malaysia and South Korea have agreed to a free trade agreement to boost economic ties and enhance bilateral relations. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was visiting South Korea said South Korea had agreed to further develop education, tourism and information and communication technology facilities. South Korea has also agreed to help Malaysia develop its small and medium-sized enterprises through courses for Malaysian officials.
NO LIMIT: (Aug 22) Malaysia will not limit the number of private universities here, as it wants to become the hub for education in the region. As such, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said companies interested in setting up universities should submit their applications to the Education Ministry, adding that they must have strong financial standing and the courses they plan to offer must suit current demands.
BREACH FOUND: (Aug 23) A computer server has been found storing confidential account login details of Internet users in several countries, including Malaysia. The usernames and passwords for online banking, Internet access, and online entertainment service accounts belonging to Internet users in Malaysia were found on the server, according to the Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team.
BABY SAFE: (Aug 24) Nine-month-old Tan Ying Ying is safely back in the comfort of her mothers arms, some 35 agonising hours after she was grabbed by masked men at her home in Bandar Bukit Puteri, in Puchong, on Monday morning. Police are investigating if loan sharks are responsible for the baby's abduction.
ANCIENT FIND: (Aug 23) The skeletal remains of a woman who lived about 8,000 years ago have been found at Gua Teluk Kelawar in Lenggong, Perak by a team of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) archaeologists. The 148cm-tall woman was believed to be in her forties when she died, said USMs Archaeology Research Centre director Datuk Prof Zuraina Majid.
WEALTHY LIST: (Aug 25) Malaysians, led by media, hotel and property tycoon Robert Kuok, dominated a list of South-East Asias 40 wealthiest people released by US business magazine Forbes. Malaysia accounted for 10 entries on the list, followed by Thailand with nine. Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines each contributed seven names. The second richest Malaysian is Ananda Krishnan, owner of Astro and Maxis Communications.
RUSSIAN CRASHES: (Aug 25) Two passenger jets crashed simultaneously in different places after taking off from the same Moscow airport, leaving 89 people dead and raising fears of terrorism in the heart of Russia. The crashes happened ahead of a key vote in Chechnya. Russia's security services said they had found traces of explosives among the wreckage of one of the planes, suggesting sabotage.
PEACE DEAL: (Aug 27) Militants filed out of the revered Imam Ali mosque and turned its keys over to representatives of Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric yesterday in the wake of a peace agreement to end three weeks of fighting with US and Iraqi forces in Najaf. The handover of the keys to one of Shia Islam's holiest sites which the militants have been using as a hideout was a symbolic, yet crucial, step in ending the bloody crisis that has plagued this city since Aug 5.
MORE NEEDED: (Aug 25) The United Nations, warning that its aid programmes for Sudan were grossly under funded, appealed for some US$430mil (RM1.63bil) for Darfur and other crisis spots in the vast African country. So far, the United Nations has received little over 10% of the US$153mil (RM581mil) sought for displaced people returning to the south of the country after a peace deal between the government and rebels there.
BOMBER JAILED: (Aug 24) An Indonesian court yesterday sentenced a Muslim militant to 10 years in jail for involvement in last year's J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing, but acquitted him of helping plan the 2002 Bali attacks. The court ruled that Jhoni Hendrawan, could not be prosecuted over the Bali case, in which 202 people died, because of a ruling last month by the country's top court prohibiting the retroactive application of the anti-terror law used to charge him.
TROUBLED SOUTH: (Aug 22) A bombing spree in Thailand's troubled southern province of Yala left 14 people injured. Three bombs were set off slightly before midnight in Yala, 1,300km south of Bangkok, two days prior to Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's planned visit to the area, where more than 320 people have already died this year in a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence.
ARRESTED: (Aug 25) The son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Mark Thatcher, was arrested in Cape Town on Wednesday for allegedly bankrolling a coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, a spokesman for South African investigators said. Thatcher was arrested at his home in Constantia for violating the Foreign Military Assistance Act, which bans mercenary activities, said Sipho Ngwema, spokesman for the Scorpions elite investigating unit.
DISMANTLE CIA PROPOSAL: (Aug 23) The Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans proposed removing America's largest intelligence gathering operations from the CIA and the Pentagon and putting them directly under a new national intelligence director. Senator Pat Roberts, the committee chairman, unveiled on Sunday the most sweeping intelligence reorganisation proposal offered by anyone since the Sept 11 commission called for major changes.