Week that was

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 26 Feb 2006

Compiled by Shantini Suntharajah 

BIRD FLU IN GOMBAK: (Feb 20) The Government confirmed that 40 kampung (free range) chickens at four villages along Jalan Genting-Klang died of the H5N1 avian flu last week. (Feb 21) A safety ring was thrown around a 10km radius of the bird flu-hit villages to contain the virus and culling of chickens, ducks and other birds was carried out. By Wednesday, more than 800 chickens, ducks and birds were culled. 


SHOW CAUSE LETTER: (Feb 23) The New Straits Times (NST) was issued a show cause letter by the Internal Security Ministry to explain why action should not be taken against it for printing a cartoon deemed offensive to Muslims. However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi accepted the New Straits Times’ (NST) front-page apology (Feb 24). Abdullah said no action would be taken against the newspaper following its open apology 


HIGHER DIVIDEND: (Feb 23) The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) declared a 5% dividend for last year, compared with 4.75% in 2004. EPF chairman Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali described the dividend rate as “good, given the challenging global economic environment and the low domestic interest rate.”  


A13-HOUR DAY: (Feb 24) An Education Ministry report supports teachers' claims that they put in long hours at school, contrary to public perception that teachers work only “half day”. The findings are based on a report on teachers’ workload compiled by a committee headed by the ministry’s just retired secretary-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang. The survey involved 16,699 teachers from 440 schools and was done over a period of one year. 


PARTY RAIDS: (Feb 20) Police said nationwide raids on entertainment outlets that youths frequent for designer drugs will be stepped up. Police said they were concerned over the easy availability of these drugs, namely methamphetamine and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), which were popular with young people.  

SHORTER WAIT: (Feb 21) Maximum waiting time at all entry points into the country will be reduced to just eight minutes compared with the current 15, Home Affairs ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat said. The Immigration Department was taking measures to cut down waiting time at all the relevant counters.  

POSTPONED: (Feb 21) The Government decided to postpone the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to a new date that will be announced later. The tax was earlier scheduled to come into effect on Jan 1, 2007. 

FOREIGN LANDSLIDE TRAGEDY: (Feb 18) A massive wall of mud slammed into a village in the south of the Philippines’ Leyte Island, burying an estimated 1,400 people, including some 200 schoolchildren in an elementary school. On Feb 20, hi-tech gear detected sounds at the site of an elementary school, according to US and Malaysian officials. Rescue ef forts were focused on the school because of unconfirmed reports that some of the children and teachers may have sent cell phone text messages to relatives. 


BIGGEST HEIST: (Feb 23) An armed gang who carried out a raid on a British security depot may have escaped with a record amount of £50mil (RM325mil). All British ports and airports were put on alert for anyone attempting to leave the country with large sums of cash while CCTV images of the gang’s white delivery lorry was released to help track down the robbers. 


BIRD FLU SPREADING: (Feb 18) The H5N1 bird flu virus was identified in India and Iran, continued to spread in Europe and claimed another victim in Indonesia, though Nigeria claimed to be bringing it under control. Seven people were under observation after India was hit, although a promised mass cull saw just 20,000 birds killed.  

EARLY ELECTION: (Feb 24) Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called an election for April 2, three years early, as he launched a stunning counter-attack against a rapidly growing campaign to oust him. Thaksin’s popularity fell to 34.5% this month, according to a nationwide poll by Bangkok’s Assumption University, compared with 77.5% right after he won another landslide election victory a year ago. 


NATIONAL EMERGENCY: (Feb 24) Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a national emergency to quell an alleged coup plot by military officers but her opponents defied a ban on protests and demanded her resignation. Arroyo ordered the arrest of the alleged conspirators. 


PAPER SAYS SORRY: (Feb 19) A Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper printed a full page apology from Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily that first published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, unleashing a wave of fury from Muslims worldwide.  


FORMER DPM DIES: (Feb 22) S. Rajaratnam, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, died aged 90 of heart failure. The ex-journalist-turned-politician had retired from politics in 1988 after a 29-year political career.  


JAILED: (Feb 21) An Austrian court sentenced right-wing British historian David Irving to three years' jail for denying the Holocaust 17 years ago, despite his claim to have changed his views. Chief judge Peter Liebetreu said in his final decision that Irving's “confession” of changing his mind “did not seem to us remorseful and that is why it did not especially influence the calculation of the sentence.” Irving will appeal.  

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