Mahathir Mohamad, then Malaysian prime minister, sacks deputy Anwar Ibrahim for alleged sexual misconduct amid differences over economic policy in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
Anwar acts as lightning rod for opposition to government, mobilising thousands of people on to the streets to demand reforms.
April – Anwar found guilty of corruption and sentenced to six years in prison.
November – Mahathir's Barisan Nasional coalition dealt severe blow at elections, dropping nine percentage points from the previous poll to 56 per cent of the popular vote and from 84 per cent of the seats in parliament to under 77 per cent.
Anwar found guilty of sodomy and jailed nine years.
Mahathir resigns after 22 years in power, handing reins to Abdullah Badawi.
March - Abdullah wins landslide general election victory, getting nearly 64 per cent of the popular vote and more than 90 per cent of the seats in parliament.
September - Anwar freed after court overturns sodomy conviction but corruption conviction continues to stand, meaning he is banned from politics for five years.
Government reaffirms affirmative action plan first implemented in 1971 to reduce income disparity, especially between poor Malays and rich Chinese.
The original goal was to bridge the gap in 20 years but government now says the plan – criticised as racial discrimination - will be in place until 2020
May - Top civil court rejects ethnic Malay woman's appeal to be recognised as a Christian, ruling that she must go to the Islamic court – where she could face prosecution – to formally recognise her conversion.
The case highlights a string of others - with accusations of bodies taken from families for religious burials and children taken from converts - sparking charges of religious persecution.
July - Najib Razak, the deputy prime minister, says Malaysia is an Islamic state, not a secular one, echoing Mahathir's declaration in 2001.
August - Malaysia marks 50 years of independence.
November - Police use tear gas and chemcial-laced water cannon to break up an opposition-backed protest by the group Bersih (meaning "clean" in Malay), calling for changes to the electoral system.
Two weeks later riot police use similar tactics to break up a protest by thousands of ethnic Indian Malaysians demonstrating against racial and religious discrimination.
February - Police break up protest by several hundred ethnic Indians. Protesters say they had been trying to deliver flowers to the prime minister in a peaceful demonstration.
March - Malaysia votes in its 12th general elections