DRB-HICOM WARNING: (Oct 24) Government-linked companies (GLCs) will step in and take control of DRB-Hicom Bhd if the disputing parties holding a strategic 15.8% stake do not settle their differences quickly, warned Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop. He said the Government had no preferred buyer for the stake. He said the Government would not object if the 15.8% stake, comprising 155.4 million shares, was sold to either Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary or the consortium led by Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin Amin.
AMNESTY PERIOD STARTS: (Oct 28) The first batch of 275 illegal immigrants returning to Indonesia under the amnesty programme is expected to leave by ferry from the Malacca Port on Friday. The Malaysia Express 1 ferry would depart for Dumai at 9.30am. More than 20,000 illegal immigrants are expected to return to their countries by sea daily during the 17-day amnesty period.
THREE LEFT OUT: (Oct 26) Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has excluded three ministers from the supreme council – the party's highest decision-making body. The three, who failed to secure a seat on the supreme council in Umno's elections last month, are Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, Information Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir and Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh.
EXAM TOPICS LEAK: (Oct 26) A teacher who is an examiner for the Malaysian University English Test leaked the “speaking” component to students from his school more than an hour before the examination. The Malaysian Examinations Council confirmed this in a statement and said that 35 students from a Kepong school would have to resit the test on a date that has yet to be determined.
APPLICATION SUBMITTED: (Oct 23) The state Barisan Nasional accepted an application by the newly registered Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) to join the coalition at state level and will recommend its membership to Federal Barisan leaders. Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the state Barisan was satisfied that the application was a genuine move on part of PRS for its members, particularly elected representatives from the deregistered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak, to work within the coalition.
EXTRA HEALTH SCREENING: (Oct 29) All foreign workers must undergo an extra full medical check-up a month after their arrival as they have been found to be responsible for the increase in communicable diseases in the country. Currently, foreign workers are only required to undergo a second health screening after having been in the country for a year, although authorities do carry out random screenings on between 5% and 10% of the new arrivals.
WEAPONS SEIZED: (Oct 27) Police seized more than 100 homemade weapons and drug-taking equipment in several raids at the hostels of a drug rehabilitation centre in Gambang near Kuantan. The raids were made following investigations by authorities on crime cases in the area, some of which were believed to be linked to inmates who had escaped from the centre.
10% SALES TAX: (Oct 27) The Customs Department has slapped a 10% sales tax on personal digital assistants (PDAs) with wireless connectivity such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The popular hand-held devices have been reclassified and put under the 8525.20 900 tariff code that incurs a 10% sales tax. A Customs official said the move was in effect immediately. The reclassification took into account the fact that PDAs were mobile hand-held computing devices with additional wireless communications capabilities, he said.
UN CARDS RECOGNISED: (Oct 29) The Government has decided to recognise the identity cards issued to Myanmar Muslims or Rohingyas by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said. He also said the UNHCR would issue the documents as they could determine who the refugees were. It is estimated that there were 10,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar registered with the UNHCR who are waiting to be placed in a third country.
THAI HORROR DEATHS: (Oct 26) Seventy-eight protesters died of suffocation or convulsions after being arrested and herded in military trucks to detention following a riot in the Muslim-dominated Narathiwat province in Thailand on Monday. Dr Pornthip Rojanasunant, deputy director of the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science, said autopsies of the dead found no bullet wounds on the bodies. In the riot, police clashed with some 2,000 demonstrators demanding the release of six people who were being held at the police station in Takbai, southern Thailand.
BOMB BLASTS: (Oct 28) A bomb exploded in a bar in Sungai Golok, southern Thailand, killing a Thai and injuring about 20 people, including four Malaysians, in what could be the first reaction to the deaths of Muslim protesters earlier this week. New bomb blasts rocked southern Thailand as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told Muslim leaders the deaths of 87 protesters in military custody should have never happened. Two bombs exploded about an hour apart at a food stall in southern Yala province. Two civilians and 10 policemen were wounded, including nine from a bomb squad investigating the first blast.
BALLOTS MISSING: (Oct 28) Four years after the “Florida fiasco,” the battleground state is back in the spotlight as thousands of absentee ballots went missing and campaigners traded claims of vote rigging. Fears of renewed electoral chaos mounted in the key battleground state this week as authorities in one of the 67 counties said they were trying to track down some 58,000 missing absentee ballots. The Broward supervisor of elections said the ballots, about half of those requested, had been sent out but apparently not received by the voters.
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