14-DAY LOSS: (Sept 21) Next year, in addition to having to pay fines, driving licences can immediately be withheld for 14 days if serious offences are committed. The offences include reckless and dangerous driving, careless and inconsiderate driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, beating traffic lights, and exceeding the speed limit by at least 40kph.
BIRD FLU WARNING: (Sept 19) The authorities are on the alert for any sign of the avian flu spreading from neighbouring countries following reported outbreaks in Indonesia. The risk of the flu spreading here is very low as Malaysia did not import any poultry from Indonesia, said Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Hawari Hussein.
BIG BUSINESS: (Sept 23) Vehicle theft is big business in Malaysia, where an average of eight vehicles are stolen every hour. For the first six months of this year, a total of 35,888 vehicles were stolen nationwide leading to a whopping RM357mil in losses. The syndicates involved were using legal means to export these Malaysian-owned cars to countries like Thailand and Indonesia.
CLEARED: (Sept 23) Preliminary findings by the Auditor-General (A-G) have cleared outgoing Customs and Excise Department director-general Tan Sri Abdul Halil Mutalib of the RM5mil retirement bash allegation. According to A-G Tan Sri Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil, who concluded that the RM5mil amount “did not exist,” Halil’s travels to the various states and his presence at seminars, conferences and excellence award ceremonies were part of his regular departmental activities.
FREED: (Sept 20) Stockbroking firm director Koh Kim Teck and his bodyguards, Resty Agpalo and Mohamad Najib Zulkifli, were acquitted of the charge of murdering Chinese teenager Xu Jian Huang. High Court judge Justice Abdul Kadir Musa ruled that the prosecution had failed to clear many unresolved and unanswered doubts about the murder that occurred last year.
CASES REVIEWED: (Sept 21) The police are reviewing their investigations in three high-profile murder trials where the accused persons walked free. He said officers were presently reviewing the police work in the murders of Sabah assistant minister Datuk Norjan Khan Bahadar, guest relations officer Noritta Samsudin and Chinese national Xu Jian Huang.
BIGGEST ART THEFT: (Sept 19) Artworks of award-winning Malaysian artist Raja Azhar that were stolen from his gallery were found in an auction house. A total of 20 paintings, glassworks and handicraft worth about RM300,000 were stolen over a period of four years, allegedly by a shop assistant.
PEAT FIRES: (Sept 18) Firefighters were using every available method, including water bombs, to fight fires in over 30ha of peat forest in six locations in Selangor, said Selangor Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Director (Operations) Norhisham Mohammad. A massive operation was under way in Bukit Tarik Rasa forest in the Kuala Kubu Baru area where more than 4ha of peat forest was burning.
MC LIMIT: (Sept 17) Doctors can no longer prescribe unlimited medical leave for workers insured by the Social Security Organisation (Socso). Medical certificates (MCs) will be capped at a maximum of six months. Those who chalk up 180 days of medical leave will be referred to the primary medical board for permanent disability assessment.
RM47MIL COLLECTED: (Sept 22) Police collected RM47,010,656 in fines despite the 50% discount on traffic summonses from Sept 1 until last Wednesday. Federal traffic chief Datuk Gingkoi Seman Pancras said defaulters settled 689,166 summonses during the period. Selangor police collected the most fines since Sept 1 with RM8.9mil, followed by Johor (RM8.6mil) and Kuala Lumpur (RM5mil).
BIGGER LOANS: (Sept 20) Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the Government will raise its loan to Felda settlers involved in schemes to RM75 from RM50 per acre (0.4ha) from Oct 1. Najib said the loan increase resulted from the appeal of the settlers, who were facing difficulties coping with the rising cost of living, including the increase in the price of petrol and diesel.
MONSTER STORM: (Sept 22) Hurricane Rita grew into a monster storm with up to 275kph winds as it swirled towards Gulf of Mexico states, prompting more than 1.3 million residents in Texas and Louisiana to flee in hopes of avoiding a deadly repeat of Hurricane Katrina. In Washington, President Bush’s administration declared Hurricane Rita a national emergency days before its expected landfall in Texas.
STILL UNCERTAIN: (Sept 19) North Korea jeopardised a six-country deal on giving up its nuclear arms just one day after it was struck, by vowing on Tuesday to keep the weapons until Washington provides civilian atomic reactors. The six countries, including Russia, had agreed on Monday to a set of principles on winding up Pyongyang's nuclear programmes in return for aid and recognition of its right to a civilian nuclear programme.
IN LIMBO: (Sept 18) Voters plunged Germany into political limbo on Sunday, splitting their ballots between Angela Merkel's conservatives and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats so evenly that both claimed victory. The tight result is likely to bring weeks of political uncertainty and weigh on the euro and German stocks.
AHEAD BY ONE: (Sept 17) Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Labour Party beat the opposition National Party by a single seat in New Zealand’s election but neither party won a clear majority in Parliament. After 99% of the votes were tabulated, the Labour Party had 41% over the National Party's 40%.
NAZI HUNTER DIES: (Sept 19) Simon Wiesenthal, who waged an untiring campaign to track down Nazi war criminals died on Tuesday at the age of 96, the Jewish Community of Vienna said. Wiesenthal, a Jew and former concentration camp inmate, achieved perhaps his greatest success by discovering Adolf Eichmann, the man Adolf Hitler entrusted with carrying out his genocide programme against the Jews, hiding in Argentina.
400 RICHEST: (Sept 23) America’s wealthiest people got even richer over the past year with the top 400 now worth US$1.3tril (RM4.26tril) according to Forbes magazine reports. Microsoft founder Bill Gates kept his top spot on the Forbes list for the 12th straight year.
ISLAM-JUDAISM TIES: (Sept 18) Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf held unprecedented talks with American Jewish leaders, saying an anticipated resolution to the Palestinian question would revive the historical ties between Islam and Judaism. Musharraf became the first leader of a Muslim nation with no diplomatic relations with Israel to hold public dialogue with Jewish leaders.
GOOGLE SUED: (Sept 21) US writers are suing Google Inc in a federal court, alleging that the search engine leader's bid to digitise the book collections of major libraries infringes individual author copyrights.
EXTREME REALITY: (Sept 22) Tyra Banks underwent a televised sonogram on her new talk show to prove that her breasts were not fakes. Dr Garth Fisher from ABC’s Extreme Makeover performed a touch test and then the sonogram. He concluded that Tyra Banks had natural breasts and no implants.
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