NATION GRIEVES: (Oct 20) The Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Endon Mahmood succumbed to breast cancer after a long battle. Endon, 64, breathed her last 18 days after returning from treatment for breast cancer in Los Angeles, the United States. Tens of thousands – from dignitaries to the common folk – paid their last respects at her funeral.
BEING COMPETITIVE: (Oct 18) The Government unveiled the National Automotive Policy Framework to promote a dynamic and globally competitive local automotive industry. Incentives and support will be given to automotive manufacturers and existing assemblers, and investments that will make Malaysia a regional hub for manufacturing, assembly, and distribution of automotive vehicles will also be encouraged. Bumiputra-controlled public-listed companies which are currently exclusive franchise holders of certain vehicle brands can also import vehicles directly instead of via intermediaries.
NICOL RULES: (Oct 18) Nicol David, 22, defeated Australian Natalie Grinham to win the British Open. Nicol, who is now ranked third in the world, has won in all the age-group tournaments of the prestigious championships.
ISA RESIGNS: (Oct 16) Tan Sri Isa Samad resigned as Federal Territories Minister, following his three-year suspension after appealing his initial six-year suspension from all Umno posts. Isa was found guilty of money politics during last year’s Umno elections and stripped of his vice-president post. Woman, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil will be acting Federal Territories Minister.
SOUR DEAL: (Oct 17) A developer who was given prime police land to develop in exchange for building police stations and police living quarters is now being investigated for not fulfilling the terms of the agreement. While the developer has completed his commercial project on prime police land worth RM110mil in the Pendang and Yan districts, the quarters and police stations remain incomplete.
GHAFAR BETTER: (Oct 20) Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Ghafar Baba’s condition has improved. Pantai Medical Centre consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Abdul Hamid said Ghafar could breathe on his own for prolonged periods.
ROAD SAFE: (Oct 16) Middle Ring Road Two is safe without any question of collapse, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said. He said Public Works Department (JKR) officials who had been constantly monitoring the structures were satisfied by the readings from monitoring equipment along the flyover.
BETTER BUREAU: (Oct 17) The Public Complaints Bureau will undergo a major overhaul to make it more effective in helping to ensure a better government delivery system in the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the bureau would introduce a new approach in collecting feedback on overall public service through a public polling system and e-mail.
TENURE EXTENDED: (Oct 18) Tan Sri Zainol Abidin Abdul Rashid’s contract as chief executive officer of the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) was extended for another year. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Finance Minister made the decision. Four employees’ unions representing IRB staff had urged the Government not to extend his contract.
ALSO ACCOUNTABLE: (Oct 21) Employers will have to make statutory declarations confirming that their workers’ Socso claims are genuine, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said. “Those who make a statutory declaration without verifying the claims will run the risk of being charged in court for making a false declaration,” he said.
STRONGMAN SUCCUMBS: (Oct 18) After a life devoted to hair-pulling stunts, Mighty Man R. Letchemanah has died at the age of 55. His death was caused by a heart valve infection, two years after a transplant. Letchemanah was best known as the first Malaysian to pull a 32.5-tonne Boeing 737 over a distance of 16.85m at the Sultan Aziz Shah Airport in Selangor on Sept 30, 1990.
ON TRIAL: (Oct 19) A defiant Saddam Hussein at first refused to give his name, but then calmed down and pleaded “not guilty” as his long-anticipated, televised trial for crimes against humanity began in Baghdad. After three hours of hearings in which Saddam and his seven co-defendants were told of the charges against them, including murder and torture in the death of 148 Shi’ite men two decades ago, the trial was quickly adjourned until Nov 28.
TOUGHEST RESCUE: (Oct 20) The earthquake in Pakistan’s northern mountains is turning into the greatest logistical challenge faced by an emergency operation due to the extent of the devastation, the rough terrain and the approaching Himalayan winter to aid earthquake victims, international aid officials said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a major escalation of the effort, predicting many more deaths if the world fails to respond adequately.
EPIDEMIC WARNING: (Oct 21) Bird flu is deeply entrenched in bird populations across Asia, and China and other countries have a big challenge on their hands fighting the disease, said senior UN coordinator for avian and human influenza David Nabarro. He also said that up to 150 million people could die in a flu pandemic if the H5N1 virus that caused bird flu mutated into a deadlier form that spread more easily among humans.
TOP BRASS IMPLICATED: (Oct 20) A UN inquiry has found that high-ranking Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies were involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a strong critic of Syria’s decades-long domination of Lebanon. His murder sparked international outrage and Lebanese protests that ultimately led to Syria’s withdrawal from the country.
WILMA LASHES BY: (Oct 21) Packing winds of around 240kph, Hurricane Wilma slammed into Mexico’s Caribbean beach resorts on Friday, knocking over houses, upturning trees and trapping thousands of tourists in cramped shelters. Wilma was expected to miss Gulf of Mexico oil and gas facilities but Florida’s orange groves were at risk. This hurricane season has spawned three of the most-intense storms on record, and experts say the Atlantic has entered a period of heightened storm activity that could last 20 more years.
IN COLD STORAGE: (Oct 19) Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been sent to the wastes of Siberia to serve his eight-year sentence. Penal officials said the 42-year-old oil tycoon, once Russia’s richest man, had arrived at camp IK-10, near the border with China and 6,000km from his native Moscow, to serve his sentence, imposed last May for fraud and tax evasion.
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