Weekly News Monitor: 21 July, 2008

IMF Sounds Warning Despite Raising Global Forecast

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised up estimates it made in April for global growth this year and next. However, the agency coupled the improved forecasts with stark warnings that demand was slowing sharply in major industrial economies and inflation rising everywhere.

It revised up slightly growth forecasts for emerging and developing economies to 6.9 per cent this year and 6.7 per cent next year, but still a significant slowing from 8 per cent last year. China’s economic expansion is now expected to ease to around 10 per cent from about 12 per cent last year, the fund said.

In emerging economies, higher interest rates and more fiscal restraint are needed, and in some cases, countries should allow their currencies to appreciate to contain inflation, the IMF said.

Oil and food prices are expected to remain high and volatile, with financial conditions temporarily adding to upward price pressures.

More Farmers Suing Government In Nipah Case

Another group of 307 pig farmers are waiting for the Court of Appeal to hear their final appeal to be allowed to sue the government for claims arising from the Nipah outbreak a decade ago.

In another case, the Court of Appeal had allowed another group of 184 pig farmers to sue the government. But it appealed to the Federal Court on Tuesday (15 July) that the farmers’ suit is defective and frivolous and should be thrown out. Judgment is reserved.

Both groups of farmers are from Bukit Pelanduk, the country’s pig farming hub before the virus outbreak killed off the industry. Both filed claims against the government six years ago for alleged negligence in containing the epidemic in 1998.

UMNO Begins Grassroots Talks To Decide PM’s Fate

UMNO launched a first round of meetings on Thursday to determine whether it will keep Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as party chief after recent electoral losses.

About 19,000 branches in the United Malays National Organisation party are slated to hold meetings through next month to discuss preparations for the party’s congress in December, when Mr Abdullah intends to defend his party presidency.

PETRONAS Pays RM 6b As Special Divident To Government

National oil giant Petronas, which today reported a 31.5 per cent profit jump in the last financial year, has declared RM6 billion in a special dividend to the Federal Government after a request from the Finance Ministry.

Petronas president Tan Sri Hassan Merican disclosed the special dividend when announcing the corporation’s financial results ending March 31, 2008. Petronas Group reported a record nett profit of RM61 billion against RM46.6 billion in the previous financial year.

Sources said the government requested the extra dividend as its budget was stretched by a combination of factors including rising costs of subsidies for fuel and food in the past year. It slashed fuel subsidies and raised pump prices for petrol and diesel prompting protests.

Return To ME

If you are a medical specialist with ten years experience overseas aged 45 and above, you may soon be able to come home to Malaysia and commence your private practice without having to do any compulsory service with the government. If you are 35 and below you need only serve with the government for one year compared to the present three-year rule. These are measures which the health ministry are considering to ease the return of much needed medical specialists. Otherwise, the 1,800 medical specialists in the country are not able to cope with the number of patients in need of specialist attention.

Too Fast For Comfort

Express mail guarantees secure and swift delivery of essential stuff and messages.However, when they bring illicit drugs into the country, RM 1.5 million worth of them, then the service is certainly too fast for comfort to Malaysian parents already frantic about the availability of such unwelcome stuff in the country. When the the Customs headquarters’ narcotics branch in KLIA opened up what was listed as computer parts and toys and found instead 120,000 Eramine-5 pills, they have to their credit foiled a dastardly attempt to bring in these dreaded stuff. Sent from Taiwan, the three boxes were addressed to three bogus addresses.

Never Too Early

Tiger Woods started playing at four. So it is never too early to start discovering one’s talent and putting it to good use. A twelve-year old Kuching schoolgirl has had eight books published under such imaginative titles as The Lonely Lion, The Cunning Thief and The Naughty Brother. Herself the beneficiary of such children’s books as Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Victoria Siaw Wei Yah says writing is an avenue for expressing her feelings. She traces her story-writing beginnings to when she was just nine-years of age. Her first attempt at a novel is already 20-pages long. In the meantime her eight published works are already available in the book shops.

Help Keep Needy Children In School

There is a plan to provide food and tuition voucher to needy school children. The priority is for this RM1 billion per year supplements to go to the right children. An additional RM1 billion allocation is available for rural areas to develop education facilities although some school construction projects may fall victim to the current inflationary trend. For this reason, the education ministry is looking to the corporate sector to sponsor the schooling of needy children. “I do not want poverty to be the cause of our children not going to school,” says the education minister.

Helping Bedridden Children

With the introduction of a new motor action training method throughout the country, there is hope that children or the aged suffering from cerebral palsy and confined to bed may soon recover some functions like sitting or walking and even perfom some tasks on their own. This service is being made available to a number of disabled children’s homes and there are plans to introduce it to other such homes in the country. Initated through sponsorship of the Japan International Corporation Agency and the Japan Postal Department who brought trainers from Japan, the technique known as dohsa-hou helps children regain some bodily movements. It takes discipline and diligence for progress to be achieved and retained. The priority is training trainers so that the programme can be expanded.

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