CHRONOLOGY: Malaysia, fifty years of independence

Fri Aug 31, 2007 5:32am EDT

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(Reuters) - Malaysia marked 50 years of independence from British rule on Friday.

Here is a timeline of key events since independence:

* August 31, 1957: The Federation of Malaya is granted independence from Britain after close to 50 years of colonial rule. Tunku Abdul Rahman becomes the first prime minister.

* September 16, 1963: Federation of Malaysia is formed by Malaya, and neighboring Sabah (North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore. * August 9, 1965: Singapore quits the federation following a disagreement between the leaders of the two states on Chinese communities, leaving Malaysia with 13 states.

* May 14, 1969: A state of emergency is declared and the constitution suspended following violent anti-Chinese rioting.

* September 21, 1970: Tunku Abdul Rahman resigns. Tun Abdul Razak, his chosen successor, is sworn in the following day.

* 1971: Razak's pro-Malay affirmative action policy, the New Economic Policy (NEP), introduced after national soul-searching blames the Malay-Chinese wealth gap for 1969's violent riots.

* January 14, 1976: Tun Abdul Razak dies. Hussein Onn becomes prime minister on January 15.

* July 16, 1981: Mahathir Mohamad succeeds Hussein.

* December 2, 1989: The Malaysian Communist Party formally ends 41 years of armed struggle against the government.

* May-June 1998: Tensions mount between Mahathir and his deputy Anwar Ibrahim, as Anwar calls for reforms.

* September 1: Strict capital controls introduced to buffer the impact of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Country slides into its first economic recession in 13 years.

* September 2: Anwar sacked over alleged corruption and sexual misconduct. Expelled from the United Malays National Organization (UNMO) party on September 4, he is arrested on September 20, after leading 30,000 anti-government protesters through the capital.

* April 1999: Anwar sentenced to six years in prison for corruption, and a five-year ban from politics. In August 2000 he is handed nine years jail for illegal homosexual activity. He says charges are politically motivated.

* October 30, 2003: Mahathir steps down after over two decades in power. He soon finds fault with his hand-picked successor, ex-deputy premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

* March 22, 2004: Abdullah begins a new five-year term after his coalition government wins a landslide victory.

* September 3: Anwar wins his appeal against his sodomy conviction and is freed from jail after almost six years.

* March 31, 2006: A multi-billion-dollar Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) is unveiled to tackle rural poverty, promote growth and help Malaysia achieve developed nation status by 2020.

* August 31, 2007: Malaysia marks fifty years of independence.

Sources: Reuters, A Political Chronology of South-East Asia and Oceania

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