CABINET RESHUFFLE: (Feb 14) In the Cabinet reshuffle unveiled on Tuesday, the first since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Prime Minister, two deputy ministers were promoted to ministerial posts, three ministers changed portfolios and two former Cabinet members were re-appointed. The revamped Cabinet will focus on the successful implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, which is critical for the nation’s future, Abdullah said.
NEW LINE-UP: (Feb 14) In the Cabinet reshuffle, Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin was made Information Minister, and Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique was made Federal Territories Minister. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed was appointed Higher Education Minister and Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor returned to the Cabinet as Tourism Minister. Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad took over the Home Affairs Ministry from Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid who was made Natural Resources and Environment Minister.
STAYING ON: (Feb 14) Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, who was embroiled in the Approved Permits (APs) issue last year, retained her International Trade and Industry Minister (Miti) post.
KADIR RESIGNS: (Feb 14) Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir resigned as Information Minister, partly to spend more time with his family. He will, however, continue to be active in politics.
MEDIA DISCIPLINED: (Feb 14) The afternoon edition of the Penang-based Guangming Daily was suspended for two weeks from Feb 16 for contravening permit conditions by publishing a photograph that featured the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
NOT LIABLE: (Feb 17) The Federal Court absolved the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council of any liability in the losses suffered by the 73 residents of two blocks of the Highland Towers condominium who had to evacuate after the collapse of Block One 13 years ago. Local authorities are given full immunity under the law from claims for the pre-collapse period.
FLOOD WOES: (Feb 12) Floods worsened in Kelantan and Pahang, forcing more people from their homes. The situation in Terengganu, however, improved and all evacuees were allowed to return home.
COMMITTEE IN CHARGE: (Feb 17) Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi clarified that a committee in the Prime Minister’s Department chaired by his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was fully responsible for considering and deciding on policies relating to Approved Permits (APs) for vehicles. This was in response to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz's comments earlier that matters relating to the issuance of APs for car imports were fully under the jurisdiction of her ministry.
FAKE CERTS: (Feb 12) Hundreds of medically unfit drivers of lorries, buses and taxis could be on the roads, endangering not only themselves but also other road users. They could have obtained or renewed their goods driving licences (GDL) and public service vehicle (PSV) licences using forged medical reports sold by a syndicate. Shah Alam district police CID chief Deputy Supt Halimah Ton Ahmad said police were conducting investigations on the fake medical certificates.
RIGHT MOVE: (Feb 16) Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the emphasis on agriculture has paid off, as the healthy growth of the industry has proven critics wrong. Speaking to newsmen after opening the 2006 Agro-Based Industry Expo on Thursday, he said the emphasis on agriculture was a conscious effort by the Government to put more money in the people’s pockets.
CONSUMERS' PLIGHT: (Feb 13) Malaysian consumers are paying almost double for Indian beef now as a cartel monopolising the trade is dictating the import price. The retail price of Indian beef has swelled from RM6.50 per kilo a year ago to between RM9 and RM10 per kilo now, depending on the cut.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said his ministry was aware of the cartel, which was under the control of one of the four Indian exporters of beef to Malaysia.
SUBRA TO STAND: (Feb 15) MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam said he will “go all out” to defend and retain his post in the party polls in June.
“I’m convinced the delegates are mature enough to pick a suitable leader. I am confident of retaining (my post),” he said.
HORROR MUDSLIDE: (Feb 17) Hundreds of people were feared dead in the central Philippines after mudslides triggered by heavy rains buried houses and an elementary school packed with children. Footage from local television showed only coconut trees and a few tin roofs sticking out of the reddish soil after part of a mountainside collapsed on the farming village of Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte province.
NO CHARGES: (Feb 17) Texas authorities have closed their investigations into US vice-president Dick Cheney's shooting incident without filing any charges. Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, whom Cheney shot, prepared to leave the hospital and said the incident was just an accident.
NO TRIAL: (Feb 16) Thailand's top court rejected a petition to try prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra for conflict of interest over his family's sale of their telecoms business.
FLU PANIC: (Feb 16) More H5N1 strains were detected in Europe, prompting governments to step up efforts to prevent a potentially devastating outbreak of the bird flu. Germany became the fourth country to detect H5N1.
MISUARI BACK: (Feb 16) Nur Misuari returned as chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, after the council that ousted and succeeded him decided to dissolve itself.
DEATH SENTENCE: (Feb 14) An Indonesian court sentenced two young Australian men to die by firing squad for trying to smuggle heroin from the resort island of Bali, verdicts that back up Jakarta’s war on illegal drugs. The other seven of the ‘Bali Nine’ have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
BLIZZARD HITS NEW YORK: (Feb 12) After a relatively mild winter New Yorkers and much of the Northeast of the United States and New England woke up Sunday to a blizzard with more than 45cm of snow dumped in the city centre. The storm was accompanied by lightning and thunder.
REJECTED: (Feb 18) The White House on Thursday rejected a recommendation in a UN report to shut down the prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the report was a discredit to the organisation. The report, summarising an investigation by five UN experts, had called on the US government “to close down the detention centre and to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.”
RENAMED: (Feb 17) Iranians, who love Danish pastries, renamed the flaky dessert “Roses of the Prophet Mohammad” in retaliation for caricatures of Prophet Mohammad published in Danish newspapers. One of Teheran’s most popular bakeries, Danish Pastries, covered up the word “Danish” on its sign with a banner emblazoned “Oh Hussein”, a reference to a martyred saint.
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