We've crossed another unwanted Covid-19 milestone as our death count mounts. Meanwhile, while we're restricted to movements within a 10km-radius of our homes, our beloved leader'll be in Indonesia tomorrow.

In other news, all economic sectors may be allowed to reopen soon; another political bigwig has been found guilty of corruption; and, the hits keep piling up against our ex-AG.

Covid's grim toll

Eight hundred's enough

Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll has crossed the 800 mark (809) yesterday after 18 souls succumbed to the disease. Sadly, with the high number of folk in ICU and on ventilators, this will certainly not be the end of it. 

Yesterday’s death toll also included yet another seemingly healthy, young Malaysian. The 31-year-old’s the third under 40 to die despite not suffering from any comorbidities (other illnesses) this year. FYI, it’s rare for a healthy person under 40 to die from Covid.

Adding to the list of woes, yesterday saw an increase in our daily infection numbers after two days of drops. There were 4,284 new cases (with Selangor accounting for over a third at 1,572) against 3,804 recoveries.

Our total caseload stood as 226,912 with 48,309 active cases, of which 307 are in ICU (141 requiring intubation).

While thankfully not in the 5,000s, yesterday’s case increase still hits pretty hard. But we’re not ready to throw in the towel yet, even if an Umno VP called for a new “czar” to lead the fight against the pandemic. 

And it looks like Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is here to stay to lead the charge. The doc’s denied rumours of his resignation and defended what he called a team effort in the battle against the pandemic. 

While we’re sure Dr Noor Hisham has had his fair share of headaches battling the health crisis, it’s probably nothing compared to Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin. The Warm Water Minister has described his experience contracting Covid, saying he felt his head was going to explode (would there have been anything inside to pop out, in any case?).

Meanwhile, calls have been made for the gomen to review the decision mandating all foreign workers be tested by Feb 28. Business leaders said the deadline’s impossible to meet, adding it would take at least 31 days, if not more. 

Considering our government’s rich tradition of poor planning, does this come as any surprise to anybody?

To Indonesia and back again

Is this necessary? 

PM Muhyiddin Yassin is making his first official overseas trip tomorrow. It’ll be a lightning trip to Indonesia, and dear ol’ abah will have to undergo mandatory quarantine upon returning the same day. 

Moo’s scheduled to meet with Indonesian prez Joko Widodo to discuss several muy importante things (allegedly! allegedly!) including economic cooperation, security and joint efforts against Covid-19, join the president for Friday prayers and, most important of all, lunch!

Social media did not take too kindly to Moo’s rombongan sambil belajar (study tour) amid a pandemic. #MuhyiddinOut was trending on Twitterjaya last night, with many asking why the meeting couldn’t take place virtually; and why Parliament’s suspended and we can’t travel interstate/district, while our glorious leader flies to Indonesia for nasi padang. In Moo’s defence, there just ain’t great nasi padang options on Grab, k! 😜

With MCO extended nationwide, many businesses taking a beating, and SOP violators being arrested and/or fined, n̶o̶t̶ ̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶A̶b̶a̶h̶ PM Moo’s trip hits a sour note. Whatever the two leaders need to discuss, it’d better be important!

But there may be a lifeline yet for ailing businesses. This sources report has claimed MCO 2.0 will see the reopening of all sectors of the economy, a proposal that’s been welcomed by the Malaysian Employers Federation. 

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related reports:

  • PKR head honcho Anwar Ibrahim’s renewed his call for a blanket loan moratorium following the MCO extension.
     
  • Ex-Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has said our PM-forever-wannabe can’t play an effective role as opposition leader as long as Parliament’s suspended as Anwar can’t act as a check and balance to Moo’s gomen.
     
  • The Communications Ministry has launched a Telegram channel for the public to provide their views on the emergency. But will they listen? And what happens if somebody has a really controversial opinion? Will that person be thrown in jail?
     
  • A geriatrician wants care home workers to be considered frontliners and included in the first round of Covid vaccinations.
     
  • Remember the group of poor villagers from the interior of Sabah who were each fined RM1,000 for breaking MCO while out shopping for necessities? Well, a charity organisation started a donation drive to pay the fines for them. But as Melalap assemblyman Peter Anthony has stepped in to pay the fines, the money initially collected will go towards aid for the villagers.

Another has fallen

Another big fish has fallen. Former Felda chairman Isa Samad’s been found guilty by the High Court of nine counts of corruption over the purchase of a hotel in Sarawak. 

The ex-Umno man and former Negeri Sembilan MB was found guilty of dishonestly receiving more than RM3 million in gratification for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd for RM160 million.

Isa was sentenced to six years’ jail and fined RM15.45 million. But of cos he won’t be counting jail bars just yet. He’s been granted a stay of execution but will have to pony up the RM1.5 million bail by 2pm today (maybe his good buddy Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor might spot him some pocket money?). 

Also in graft news yesterday were a former Mara Inc. chairman, and a retired general. The Mara Inc. chairman was arrested and is expected to face 22 counts of corruption related to Mara’s above market value purchase of property in Australia in exchange for kickbacks. 

Separately, the general, a former National Defence University commandant, was charged with two counts of money laundering. He’s alleged to have received two cheques of RM200,000 each, believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities (So mysterious! What are these nefarious goings on?). 

Meanwhile, former attorney-general Tommy Thomas is in more trouble. Police are investigating him for criminal defamation after a former solicitor-general lodged a report over remarks about the SRC International corruption case in Mr T’s autobiography. 

If you’re wondering why police are involved in a defamation case, defamation can be both a civil and criminal matter in many countries. Malaysia’s Penal Code also has a section on criminal defamation. In the UK though, defamation is merely a tort, meaning a civil action

Here’re more reports on TT’s book:

  • The ex-director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre has said the autobiography contains allegations about it that are untrue, defamatory and in contempt of court.
     
  • Former dictator PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad described some things in the book as shocking and “fantastic”, and Tommy-boy couldn’t have known some of the things written about.
     
  • Maddey admitted he wasn’t planning on renewing Tommy’s term as AG due to heat from the Malay community.
     
  • Mads also claimed he failed to form a unity government as he was perceived to be a dictator. Boo-freakin’-hoo!

A little bit of this and that

And lastly, here are the rest of the dangly bits from yesterday:

  • Malaysia could receive over 1.6 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax) by July.

    The vaccine is said to reduce transmission of the virus and provide protection for up to 12 weeks on a single dose. FYI, Malaysia already has a separate deal with AstraZeneca for another 6.4 million doses of its vaccine.
     
  • Despite the political instability, Malaysia’s hit a new record in a global 2020 democracy index, rising four rungs to 39 out of 167 countries, coming in tops among Asean countries.

    How? Apparently for “improvements in electoral process and pluralism”. In what way??!? We don’t freakin’ know!
     
  • Ex-Maddey head cheerleader Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s party Muda, meanwhile, has decided not to appeal the Registrar of Societies’ decision to reject its registration as a political party. Muda’ll take up the matter in court.
     
  • The National Water Services Commission is investigating the discovery of 19 barrels of scheduled waste dumped near a river in Kajang. Enough with the river contamination and water cuts, already!
     
  • Family members are demanding answers after a man died in police lockup in Kedah from injuries to the head last week. A human rights NGO wants all the cops involved in the case to be charged.
     
  • A widely-shared video purportedly showing a woman sneaking into Miri Hospital didn’t take place at its Covid-19 wards, hospital management has claimed. The woman wanted to visit her husband, warded for an undisclosed medical condition, because she was under enormous stress and has since been provided counselling.
     
  • The International Meteor Organization has said the loud explosion heard in Sabah was caused by a “space fireball”. So it wasn’t Goku then!  

“The safety of the people shall be the highest law.”

- Marcus Tullius Cicero -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s been charged with illegally importing communications equipment. In case you’re wondering if she had a shoe-phone, a’la Get Smart, the answer is no. All she allegedly had was a walkie talkie. 🤦

    Meanwhile, the Myanmar army chief has claimed the recent military coup was inevitable after the Suu Kyi-led government failed to respond to alleged election fraud claims.

    The coup is threatening the already-fragile ceasefire agreements with several rebel groups. And if that ain’t bad enough, doctors are threatening to shut hospitals in protest.
     
  • The WHO team investigating the origins of Covid-19 have entered the notorious Wuhan virology institute, where some claim the virus was manufactured.
     
  • Good news! In a landmark moment, the number of Covid vaccinations globally has surpassed the total number of confirmed cases worldwide. There’re currently over 104 million cases and more than two million deaths globally.
     
  • British PM Boris Johnson joined people across the UK in clapping outside their front doors in tribute to Captain Tom Moore, the centenarian WWII vet. Tom raised £30 million for the National Health Service last year by walking up and down his garden. Moore died in hospital after suffering pneumonia and Covid.
     
  • The list of nominees for the Golden Globes is out and Netflix is leading the charge in both TV and film nominations. 

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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