PEG REMOVED: (July 21) Malaysia removed its currency peg to the US dollar for a managed float against a basket of trade-weighted currencies. Bank Negara announced that the value of the exchange rate of the ringgit in a managed float would be determined by economic fundamentals. The ringgit peg was imposed in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis. Investors reacted by pushing the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index to a five-year high. The ringgit gained about 0.7% to RM3.77.
AP LIST: (July 18) Four businessmen – Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz and Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad – were given more than 25,000 Approved Permits (APs) to import cars into the country this year. The four got the bulk of the 67,158 APs allocated for this year, according to a list revealed by the Government amidst the controversy surrounding the issuance of APs.
ASSEMBLY OPENS: (July 21) The National Economic Policy’s failure to achieve its target was not due to shortcomings in the policy itself, but was due to weaknesses at the implementation level, Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said at the opening of the Umno general assembly. Among the issues hotly debated were the AP allocations, the re-introduction of the New Economic Policy and corruption.
TEN STRATEGIES: (July 21) Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi outlined 10 strategies for the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) at the Umno General Assembly. They included ensuring higher and sustained economic performance, building a knowledge-based economy, and improving public sector delivery system.
NICOL REIGNS: (July 19) Nicol David became the first Malaysian squash player to win a gold medal in the World Games when she beat first-ranked Rachael Grinham of Australia in Duisburg, Germany. Her world ranking improved from No. 31 to No. 3 in 27 months.
COMMUNE ATTACKED: (July 18) A mob of about 30 people went on a rampage, torching structures and smashing vehicles and house windows within Ayah Pin’s Sky Kingdom commune in Jerteh. The mob also set fire to Ayah Pin’s Pajero and smashed four other vehicles parked inside the area.
FOLLOWERS CHARGED: (July 21) Eight women followers of the Sky Kingdom cult claimed trial at the Besut Syariah Lower Court here for not adhering to a state fatwa, which declared the teachings of the group as deviant. Sect leader Ariffin Mohamad, better known as Ayah Pin, was still nowhere to be found.
RM23BIL REQUEST: (July 22) The Energy, Water and Communications Ministry has asked for RM23bil under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for water and sewerage services. Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said the money would be used to build more water treatment plants and central sewerage systems as well as replacing old pipes.
ACTING MB: (July 16) Pedu assemblyman Datuk Mahadzir Khalid was appointed acting Kedah Mentri Besar for three months. He will perform the duties of Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain who is going on leave to recuperate from his illness.
HIT AGAIN: (July 21) Four small bombs hit London’s bus and underground train network without causing major casualties, exactly two weeks after bombers killed more than 50 people in the city. Police shot dead a suspected suicide bomber, and arrested another. The incidents added to the sense of unease in London.
YUAN UNPEGGED: (July 21) China has re-valued its currency, the yuan, for the first time in a decade. The yuan will no longer be pegged to the dollar, but will float against a basket of currencies. At the announcement, the yuan strengthened by 2.1%.
TROOPS’ WITHDRAWAL: (July 21) The Indonesian government said it would start withdrawing troops from Aceh in September as part of an agreement with rebels to end three decades of civil strife.
EGYPTIAN BLASTS: (July 22) Twenty-eight foreigners were among those wounded when at least three bombs exploded in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
POTTER MANIA: (July 16) Fans across the world snatched up copies of the latest Harry Potter adventure. Publishers say up to 10 million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince could fly off the shelves in the first 24 hours after its launch.
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