Malaysia’s economy last year grew at 5.9 percent, beating earlier forecasts as the fourth quarter growth of 5.7 percent rounded up a year of increased activities in all major sectors.

The encouraging growth figure which was higher than the government’s earlier prediction of 5.8 percent compared with 5.2 percent in 2005 was marked by Malaysia’s impressive trade sector which chalked up a value in excess of RM1 trillion.

For this year, prospects remain favourable.

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The waning International Islamic News Agency (IINA), a media body of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), will be given a new breath of life by the end of the year if a plan to revive it goes well.

A study to draw up a new roadmap for a fresh plan of action for the 35-year-old body will be conducted soon and it will be fully financed by the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

The decision to carry out the study was made here today at the inaugural meeting of the new Board of Directors of IINA which was established at the seventh meeting of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers in Jeddah last September.

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Seven more deaths were recorded in road accidents yesterday, bringing the total fatalities under Ops Sikap XII, held in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration, to 172.

According to Bukit Aman police, the number of deaths recorded yesterday was the lowest since the operation was launched on Feb 11. Ops Sikap XII will end on Sunday.

Five of the fatalities were motorcyclists and pillion riders while the other two were a van driver and a pedestrian.

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The United States said today that it would not oppose if Malaysia were to pursue a nuclear energy programme for peaceful purposes.

Its ambassador to Malaysia Christopher J. LaFleur said there were very clear international guidelines for such a programme.

“Many other countries do it…Malaysia wants to do it…fine, we have no objection,” he said when asked by Bernama on an earlier comment he made during a question-and-answer session at an intellectual discourse, on Iran’s nuclear programme and whether Malaysia would face any objection if it did the same.

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The local bourse fell sharply on Tuesday with the market barometer Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) down 2.81 percent, the biggest single-day loss in two years following a sell-off in regional stocks which was triggered by sharp fall in China stocks, dealers said.

The KLCI went down as much as 52.68 points to 1,220.19 intraday, before closing 35.79 points down at 1,237.08. It opened 0.56 of a point higher at 1,273.43.

Declining stocks outweighed advancers by 1,123 to 42 on volume of 3.699 billion shares.

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British Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt will visit Malaysia from Feb 28 to March 3 at the invitation of his Malaysian counterpart, Jen Datuk Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin.

The British High Commission here said in a statement that during the visit, Sir Richard would call on Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and meet chief of Defence Forces Jen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal.

He will also be accorded the honour to take the salute at the Malaysian Army Day parade on Thursday.

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Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin will be installed as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a ceremony steeped in Malay royal customs and tradition at the Istana Negara on April 26.

A meeting of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Installation Committee, Tuesday decided to organise 11 events in conjunction with the installation ceremony, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Tuesday.

Tuanku Mizan, 44, was elected by the Malay Rulers at the 208th meeting of the Conference of Rulers at the Istana Negara on Nov 3 last year to serve as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong for five years from Dec 13 last year, succeeding Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail.

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Haq Nawaz Noor Muhamad, believed to be the youngest tallest human is here to collect funds for his treatment and to help his family who are poor in Pakistan.

The 19 year-old who arrived Tuesday sponsored by Carlton Holiday Hotel measures 243.8 cm tall and weighs 130 kg, and will draw the crowd to the three-star hotel which will be opened on March 1.

Haq Nawaz who hailed from Bhawal-Pur, a remote area near Multan, Pakistan started to grow taller at an unusual pace when he was 15, causing him to suffer spinal pain, liver and feet problems.

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The Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) ’07 exhibition, one of the region’s prestigious aerospace and maritime defence expositions, will also be drawing participation from the civil aviation industry this year.

World Aerospace Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Kamaruzzaman Shariff said that in addition to the usual display of aerospace and maritime technology, this year’s show would also feature light aircraft and local companies which handle aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

World Aerospace Sdn Bhd is the new organiser of the event, which is held biennially on Langkawi island, with this year’s being the ninth edition since it was introduced in 1991.

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Soon, passport applicants nationwide no longer have to fill out forms and wait for more than two hours to receive the document.

“The applicants only need to bring their latest photos and their MyKads.

“They can obtain the passport between 40 minutes and two hours,” said Immigration Director-General Datuk Wahid Md Don, Monday.

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